Feast of Epiphany – Sermon 250

Epiphany

10.00am Holy Communion

4th January 2015

Bible References :

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Prayer to Start

 

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

 

AMEN

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A Story of 5 Kings

 

Point 1        King Herod

 

Our story begins with the first king – who hated Christmas even though he had never heard of it –

 

His name was Herod the Great – born into a politically well -connected family – destined for a life of power –

 

He reigned from 37BC to 4 AD – levying heavy taxes on the Jews – At 25 years of age he was named governor of Galillee – a high position for such a young man –

 

In 40BC the Roman Senate named him ‘King of the Jews’ – a title the Jews hated because he was anything but religious –

 

Herod was addicted to power – his life and his use of power could be summed up in three words –

Capable – crafty and cruel –

 

On becoming king he held on tightly to the power reigns – brutally removed anyone who got in his way – over the years he had many of his family members and close associates killed

 

He wanted it all – everything a Roman Ceasar had – used slaves to construct heavily armed fortresses – to protect him – palaces, stadiums and temples – as monuments –

 

Anyone with a plot to dethrone Herod – was eliminated –

 

With that background let us now move forward to the final few months of his life –

 

Point 2  – Arrival of the three kings

 

Word came to Herod – of three visitors – Star gazers from the East – wise men with a strange question –

 

In their own country – Astrology was the wisdom of the day – they would be treated like royalty –and dressed like Kings –

 

Traditionally it has been thought that there was three – because of the gifts they brought – but there may have been a much larger number of them – as they came into the city –

 

The kings were excited because a magnificent new star appeared in the night sky – and in astrologers circles this would have meant – the birth of the new king – and for a star this size – a very powerful ruler indeed –

 

But where would this new ruler be born? – in which kingdom? – somehow they concluded it was Palestine  – which meant to them that the new king had been born to the Jews – and was therefore to be found in Jerusalem – its capital city

 

It would have been a long and arduous journey – through unfriendly terrain – if they had any doubts – about whether it was worth all the effort – they must have put them aside – and travelled on inspired by their purpose –

 

They must have been a sight to behold as they entered Jerusalem – no doubt a crowd gathered round them –when they asked a question that nobody could answer –

 

“Where is the one who is born King of the Jews? – We saw a star in the East – and have come to worship Him”

 

It wouldn’t have been long before reports of what had happened reached the ears of Herod –

 

Herod was the ‘King of the Jews’ – but he wasn’t born king – he had to fight and kill to get that title – what were these Kings talking about? – why didn’t his spies tell him about the threat to his kingdom ?

 

“Herod was frightened – and all Jerusalem with him” – which probably means his courtiers and those close to him – trembled because of what he might do to them –

 

But Herod knew enough about the people he ruled – to find out if their religious book – the Bible – had anything to say about this coming king –

 

His ministers and religious leaders told him of the prophecy and where the child was to be born – but even knowing the place – it would still be like finding a needle in a haystack –

 

So he let the kings continue in their quest – and tried to trick them – into returning to him – and telling where he might be found –

 

The three kings went off and the star led them to the exact place where Jesus was– and when they found him – they bowed in homage – and worshipped Him – offering gifts of Gold – Frankincense and Myrrh –

 

The gold symbolized Jesus’ Kingship – the incense– His priesthood – and the myrrh – spoke of his suffering to come – and death on the cross –

 

The three kings knew something Herod – would never know – that the child before them would one day rule the world –

 

It’s not clear what Mary and Joseph did with the gifts – maybe they used them to finance their stay in Egypt – or for Joseph’s carpentry business – or perhaps they locked them away somewhere – to remind them of the wonder of everything that had happened –

 

What we do know is the three kings returned to their country via another route – having been warned in a dream not to tell Herod of the child’s whereabouts –

 

Point 3  –  ‘The King of the Jews’

 

And so to our fifth king – and the true king of the Jews – the Messiah – a gift from God – to the world – His Son – whose purpose is to fulfill God’s promises – and to bring His light and love – to all

 

Even as an unknown baby –the arrival of the Kings from the East- is a clear sign that Jesus’ rule will not limited to the Jewish people alone –

 

From a quiet beginning in a stable and a baby lying in a manger – Jesus will grow strong and avoid the cruel hands of Herod – but even at the height of His ministry – and teaching  – the majority of the world’s population – would still be oblivious to His existence –

 

In His life He will willingly suffer from the abuse of religious leaders – and the ignorance – hardheartedness and rejection of many people –

 

the constant threats to His life – the betrayal by friends – and His death – on the cross – to demonstrate God’s liberating love – and the promise of resurrection – to show the way to the Father – to all

 

His kingdom will be based on truth and love and He will build people up from the inside – not control them from the outside.

 

As children my two boys used to love throwing stones into the ocean – the bigger the splash the better – but in one sense it doesn’t need to be a big stone – a tiny pebble tossed into the centre of a pool – will send ripples radiating outwards all the way to the bank –

 

The same can be said of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus – In global terms His coming was a drop in the ocean – but the presence and the impact of His coming is still – being celebrated today – two thousand years later – with ripples of Christ’s coming reaching outwards – changing many lives and his church continuing to grow –

 

ending

 

Two thousand years ago, kings journeyed far to seek the one true king – Jesus the Son of God.

Today we can learn from their example as we too seek to bring Jesus into our lives.

 

We need to look for God’s light where ever we find it and follow its lead

 

We must not let anything or anyone distract us from the personal calling that our Heavenly Father has set before us through His Son –

 

We must give our best to the King of Kings. We may not have gold, frankincense or myrrh to offer Jesus, but Jesus will readily welcome and receive whatever we have to give.

 

As Isaiah reminds us – this season of Epiphany is about – the coming of a new light into the darkness of this world – a light given through the presence and power of Jesus Christ

 

“You will see it – and be radiant with joy – and your heart will thrill with gladness”

Whenever Jesus comes into someone’s life – there is a transformation – a new quality of life – a new Joy – will you worship Him today and let this new king change your life and future forever.

 

Prayer                  AMEN