asking, "Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him."
The term "king" suggests the three forms in which the Kingship of Christ may be presented:
(1) the King he was to be;
(2) the King he seemed to be;
(3) the King he proves to be.
For introduction show what associations of kingship could have been in the minds of the Eastern Magi. The idea of the uprising of world-conquerors had been made familiar by the stories of Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, and Caesar; and we have the authority of the pagan writer, Suetonius, for the fact that "an ancient and constant opinion had become prevalent all over the East, that it was contained in the fates that at that time certain ones arising from Judaea should gain universal dominion." No doubt it is largely true that prophecy tends to fulfil itself, but in this case the fulfilment took such shape as most clearly indicated Divine control and direction. With this idea in the minds of the Magi, they would easily be guided by their astrological observations. What they looked for was, in some sense, a universal King; and that, in the fullest sense, Jesus was.
I. THE KING HE WAS TO BE. There was nothing evidently kingly about the circumstances and surroundings of this Babe. Yet the Magi expected him to turn out a King. But what sort of a King was it expected that he would be? Here follow three lines:
1. The line of Scripture prophecy, noticing all figures of Messiah as King.
2. The line of Scripture, and after-Scripture, history. Especially dealing with Daniel's presentations, and showing how the success of the Maccabees fixed the form of the Messianic hope.
3. The line of world-conquering kings outside Scripture history. It is well to fix Very clearly that the King universally expected was a delivering, conquering, redeeming King; and such Jesus was, in high, holy, spiritual senses.
II. THE KING HE SEEMED TO BE. Hanging on a cross, an inscription over his head, "This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." His Kingship seemed a miserable, hopeless failure; a claim which men scorned with a cross.. For that inscription was Pilate's scorn of the pretensions of his spiritless prisoner, and Pilate's insult of those who had made him act as if the claim were of importance. What would you say of Christ's Kingship, judging by the appearances?
III. THE KING HE PROVES TO BE. "Exalted a Prince and a Saviour."
1. The first of men in every department is king in that department.
2. From our Lord's answer to Pilate, we learn that the truth-bearer is a king.
3. Our Lord dealt with sin and its physical result, disease, in truly kingly fashion.
4. Because his work is accepted, he is entrusted with mediatorial sovereignty, is King of the spiritual world, King of souls, dispensing pardon to sinners and grace to saints. - R.T.
Seen his star.
It was revealed to the shepherds and then to the wise men.
1. The Jews had the priority of time, so also they had a superiority in the manner of the declaration. To one a living angel; to the other an inanimate star.
2. To the shepherds it was done much more feelingly than to the magi, it was loving, joyous, confidential, minute. "Fear not," etc.
3. To the Gentile the intimation was distinct, sufficient, but it was a silent finger. But to the shepherds there were voices, "a multitude of the heavenly host praising God," etc. We all have a great amount of truth floating in our minds; what we want is, to have it made definite, and brought to a focus. That the "star" did for them. Probably it so drew them, that they could scarcely resist its attraction. We cannot be too thankful to God for it, that truth as such is fascinating. Every one who has once lost and then recovered a Christian hope will understand the joy of the magi when they saw the star again. As they went, where did they look? Not at the road, nor at their feet, but at the star high up above them. How many go doubtingly, slowly, heavily, wearily, wrongly, because they look at their feet and not at the star.
Shine like that star.
2. Speak like that star.
3. Lead like that star.
1. In its creation;
2. In its position;
3. In its motion;
4. In its brightness. Let us follow the guidings of this star.
()1. Science helps religion.
2. Nature needs revelation.
3. Knowledge requires action.
()There was not much in the appearance of that single star, but it spoke volumes to those men. You know what it is to be walking by the side of some man, and suddenly he leaps aside from you with an exclamation of pleasure, and dives down into some little obscure corner or hedge, and brings up some choice botanical specimen: you know what the feeling is; you have a kind of deep sense of inferiority; your own nature tells you that he possesses some secret knowledge and power that you do not. It is the insight of natural science. Well, the insight is analogous here. Men go through the world, and they see nothing of God. nothing of Christ; or what they do see is merely the building ins which Christ dwells — a great deal about His Church, a great deal about His Word, but very little about Himself. The insight is in the Christ-born, the Christ-taught men who perceive Christ in everything. They take Him at every turn, they find Him lurking in every spot, because He is ever in their hearts. These men saw the star. There were thousands about them who looked upon the same star, and saw no meaning in it. It led them through the long desert to kneel before the Satisfier of their hopes. A picture that I once saw will illustrate what I mean. It represented the sea-shore, and standing beside it the great discoverer of the far-off continent of America; in his hand an image, rough-hewn and coarsely coloured; dawning through his eyes a keenness of observation, thought, and reflection — a dawning of some noble purpose. Behind him was the sea, broken by a brisk wind into little, fleecy waves. Beside him was his wife, half indifferent, half curious, looking on almost perplexed at the interest that he manifested. It showed that out of that strange little rough-hewn god there was born the thought of a far-off world to which he would go. But it told more than that. It told of a purpose that was graven in upon his spirit; and though the danger was great, though the sacrifice was the leaving of the wife who leant upon him, yet still, because of the deep thought which had been struck into his soul, he must perforce go, borne by the spirit of enterprise, till he had put his feet upon the far-of/land. It is this insight of enterprise which God gives to His children. The star shot the thought of Christ into the hearts of the wise men, as the rough-hewn image shot into the heart of Columbus the story of the undiscovered continent beyond the seas. So is it with Christ's children in this world. They see by an insight of faith what other men do not see. Christ's religion vindicates itself by the spiritual insight.
()Or, if you were at sea, and saw a lighthouse, you know it would say, "Keep away from the rocks." Its light through the dark night would speak that to you; or if you lived on a dangerous part of our coast, and heard the signal. gun fired by the coastguard men, you would know that that said, "A ship is coming on the rocks. Come and help, men of the life-boat, come and help!" Or if you saw flags flying from the church tower and malay houses, you know that would speak of glad news, perhaps the birthday of the Queen, or the marriage of one of her children, or the coming of some great man to the town. So the star spoke to the wise men, and it told happy news.
()I was many years ago travelling among the Pyrenees. Our carriage had to go over a mountain, by a road which ran for a great part of the way along the edge of a frightful precipice. The rocks descended to a vast depth, and the river roared below out of sight. There was no wall or hedge on the side of the road. At the post-house at the bottom of the pass we were given horses and a postman to drive them, and we started. Night fell before we reached our destination, black with heavy clouds, obscuring the stars. The horses were wild, unbroken-in colts, and they plunged from side to side. Whether the driver had been drinking or had lost his head in the excitement I cannot say, but he was perfectly unable to control the horses. They dashed from side to side of the road, and the carriage rocked, and the wheels grazed the edge. Every moment we expected one of the horses or the carriage to roll over the edge, when we should all have been dashed to pieces. I was then a little boy, and I sat on my mother's lap. My father, not knowing the danger, had walked on from the post-house by a short cut over the mountains, to the inn at the top of the pass, where we were to spend the night. My mother prepared for her end. The horses were plunging and racing about, so that it was impossible to descend from the carriage. She kissed me, and bade me say my prayers, and her lips moved in prayer also; I felt a shudder run through her at each sway of the carriage towards the edge. All at once, above us, shone out ,a bright light. The postman shouted, the horses seemed to become less restive. A strong hand was laid on their reins, the carriage was stopped, and my father's voice was heard. He had arrived at the top of the pass long before us, and, uneasy at the delay, had walked down to meet us. The light we saw was in a window of the posthouse, set as a guide to travellers. I cannot describe to you the relief, the joy, that rose in our hearts when we saw that guiding light, and when we heard the voice. We knew then that we were safe, following the ray of light we should reach our place of rest, guided by the firm hand on the bits of the untamed horses, we should be safe from being flung down the abyss. Our course through life is like that mountain journey. These wild undisciplined horses, ready to bring us to destruction, are our passions, the driver is conscience, the light is revealed truth, and He who meets us on our way and guides us is our Heavenly Father.
()When Whitefield (the great preacher) went to America (he went five times), he stood on the steps of the Court-house in Philadelphia, and preached to the people; and there was amongst the crowd a little boy. The little boy saw that Mr. George Whitefield could not see to read his Bible very well, so he got his lantern, and lit it, and held the lantern for Mr. Whitefield to see to read by. Mr. Whitefield was very much obliged to him. The little boy listened — with all his might and main — to Mr. Whitefield's preaching. He listened so much, that he let the lantern tumble down, and it was broken all to pieces. Many years afterwards Mr. Whitefield came back again to America, on his fifth journey. He stopped at the house of a minister, who said to him one day: "Do you remember, sir, preaching once in Philadelphia, and a little boy, who was holding the lantern, dropped it, and broke it? That I do," said Mr. Whitefield, "and I would give anything in the world to know what has become of that little boy." The minister said, "I was the little boy, sir. I held the lantern. I listened to you. I let it drop. Your preaching made me what I am, a Christian minister." He "followed the star."
()Of olden times on the coast of Cornwall there were wreckers. These men tied a lantern on the head of an ass, and drove the animal along the heights that fringe the shore. Ships at sea saw this light, and thinking them to be guides where open water was, ran towards them, fell on rocks, and were dashed to pieces. Then the wreckers came down to the shore, and took from the wrecked ship all that could be saved. There are a host of these false signals about in the religious world, leading men to destruction. What, then, are we to do? Look to the lighthouse of the Church, built by the hands of Jesus Christ. In it He has set the clear, steady light of revealed truth.
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