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January 6, 2019

Sermon: Scandal

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Scripture Lesson

Matthew 2:1-12; Acts 13:6-8

The Visit of the Wise Men

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’ Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they met a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet, named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God. But the magician Elymas (for that is the translation of his name) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith.

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Sermon Outline

Rev. Jonathan Swanson
Matthew 2:1-12; Acts 13:6-8

I. Introduction: Zits
     A. Taming the text
     B. The scandal
II. Three Kings’ Day, Epiphany
III. How have we tamed the text? (Matt. 2:1-12)
     A. We’ve placed the wise men at the nativity (2:1, 11)
     B. We’ve made them kings
     C. We’ve named them
IV. One of the most scandalous texts (Matt. 2:1-12)
     A. “Wise men” (magi, 2:1)
         1. Magicians (Acts 13:6, 8, 6 others)
         2. Persian Zoroastrian priests
         3. Astrologers (favored)
         4. The OT condemns astrology (7 times)
     B. Gentiles
     C. They don’t know the scriptures (2:4-5)
     D. Despite all these
         1. They search diligently for the child
         2. The Jewish officials do nothing
         3. They worship in joy (2:10-11)
V. So what?
     A. We’ve lost the scandal and the meaning
     B. The reach of God’s love
     C. Who are today’s magi where God is at work?
VI. Conclusion: “Juan Doe,” a CLC parent


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