“Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Some Bible teachers regard it unlikely that this statement by the magi is a confession of the deity of Christ. Instead of worship, the magi intended to render homage to this newly born royal baby. Indeed, it is difficult to say how much the magi understood. Yet, even if their statement unwittingly confesses more than they intended, we can still be certain, first, that the magi grasped a great deal of truth concerning our Lord Jesus and, second, that worship is the proper response for us. As we gather this Lord’s Day, our service will especially focus on the glorious reality of the Incarnation of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, in a special Christmas service.
In the prayer service, we are going to return one final time to the Luke 22:14-23 and look at Jesus, the disciples, and prayer on the Mount of Olives. We will begin our service singing “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” (Red 232).
The sermon this Sunday looks at the different responses to the newly born Christ in Matthew 2. The devotion of the magi to “the one born king of the Jews” is remarkable and exemplary. Our hymns recount the devotion of these men and the truths that Christians consider during the Christmas season. As did the Gentile wise men to the infant king, so we the church offer our worship to the Incarnate Son of God. This is the service order for this coming Lord’s Day:
Call to Worship: Matthew 2:1-2
Hymn 243 [Red] O Come, All Ye Faithful
Congregational Reading: Luke 1:46-55
Doxology: Doxology, Red 437
Hymn 250 [Red] What Child is This?
Ministry of Music: Savior of the Nations, Come
Scripture Reading: Numbers 24 & Matthew 1
Hymn 220 [Red] How Lovely Shines the Morning Star! This advent hymn by Philipp Nicolai is a very old, yet beloved hymn from Europe that still resonates with believers today. The morning star, of course, is not the “natal star,” the star of Bethlehem seen by the magi. The morning star is Jesus, as it says in Revelation 22:16: “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The morning star, as it is called, is actually the planet Venus, which shines brightly in the early morning hours in anticipation of the coming day. If we regard Jesus as wonderful now (as we do and must), what is yet to come is far better and far more glorious. This analogy begins the hymn and is initially developed by Nicolai, but the hymn is really about the glory of Jesus Christ. As we sing in the sixth verse: “Lift up the voice and strike the string! Let all glad sounds of music ring in God’s high praises blended. Christ will be with me all the way, today, tomorrow, every day, till travelling days be ended. Sing out, ring out triumph glorious, O victorious, chosen nation! Praise the God of your salvation.” As we sing at Christmas time, this is really our song, that Christ is all our glory.
Sermon: The Magi from Matthew 2:1-12
Hymn 251 [Red] As with Gladness Men of Old
Sunday School this week will be at 4:00 PM (there is no fellowship meal this Sunday). I will be teaching a second part on Jonathan Edwards’s Religious Affections.