The below Christmas sermon on the Magi from the East is from Matthew 2:1-12. These free inductive notes are intended as supplement to your own study, not a replacement. Feel free to copy, print, or share them. These notes can be helpful for individual study of the Word or for small group Bible studies. We hope your understanding of God’s Word is deeper from them.
Matthew 2:1-12 – Magi from the East
Mark 10:13-27 – True Discipleship
I. A disciple should seek to be like Jesus
Bringing children so that Jesus might touch them – Jesus’ touch could heal the sick, make the lame walk, cure the blind, and raise the dead. Parents wanted their children to be blessed by Jesus and therefore took them to Jesus to receive His blessing. In Matthew 19:13 it says that they also wanted Jesus to pray for their children. It would be an exciting thing to take your child to Jesus for a divine blessing/prayer. Christy and I often pray for our children. If Jesus were nearby, I would certainly like to take my children to meet Him and ask Him to pray for them as well.
But the disciples were not very happy with this. Were they selfish? Did they want Jesus to themselves? I don’t think this is the reason. We have seen in previous chapters that Jesus and the disciples were very busy. He had a lot on His plate. He would spend days teaching massive crowds, then retire to more in depth training of His disciples, and then retreat to a mountain for some time of prayer only to come back and massive crowds waiting for Him again. Likely the disciples were trying to conduct some crowd control in order to keep Jesus from being too busy by allowing only the most pressing cases to Jesus. They probably thought that Jesus was too busy to deal with these kids who were healthy anyway.
Jesus was indignant (He displayed righteous anger) – Jesus has a very strong reaction when He sees the children being denied access to Him Jesus was not a robot. He had feelings. He had very strong feelings. He was angry. It is not the only time He was angry. Of course, we all know that He was also angry when the temple was turned into a place of business. He was angry to see the hypocrisy and hard hearts of the religious leaders who were so callous to the needy. See Ephesians 4:26-27. Jesus exhibited this type of righteous anger. It shows that He genuinely cared. When Jesus got angry, He was teaching His disciples that some things are important enough that we should get angry over them. He was teaching them that sin is a reason to get angry and anger can motivate you to take action to solve the problem. We need to pray and ask the Lord to give us a heart that cares so much for the people around us (even strangers), that we get angry when we see sin taking root and destroying lives.
Share: Talk about the modern world of busyness, apathy, and anonymity.
Where is the indignation toward sin and injustice? Are we apathetic? Do we just stand by when we should say something? Jesus spoke up and put a stop to this problem. Sometimes we need to speak up too.
Jesus was compassionate – Children were very important to Jesus and He was willing to set aside time in His schedule to spend with them. Some people say that they don’t like children. I have relatives who far prefer a pet cat to children. Those who don’t like children are generally selfish. To them, children are an inconvenience. They take a lot of time to care for. Sometimes they are loud. They make messes. They break things. They wake you up in the middle of the night. They cost money. They are a nuisance. Well, children are a nuisance to self-centered people living life for themselves. But if we have the right perspective, children are a blessing. Here we see that Jesus liked children. God likes children. See Psalm 127:3-5. Jesus didn’t selfishly focus on the inconvenient aspect of children. Neither did God focus on the inconvenient aspect when He created us or when He adopts us as children. He is compassionate. He cares for the weak and vulnerable.
qJesus has time for each of us. Jesus was very busy. He was so busy that sometimes He didn’t have time to eat. His family members thought He was crazy to spend so much time serving others (Mark 3:20-21). But somehow Jesus always made time. He made time to pray, even with all the needy crowds often following Him around. He made time to talk with His disciples and answer their questions. He made time to go with Jairus to help his daughter. And even on the way when his daughter was in critical condition, He made time to stop and talk with the sick lady who had the bleeding problem. Read Mark 10:46-49. Bartimaeus was another person that people looked down on. They didn’t consider he was important. He wasn’t worth Jesus’ time. They told him to be quiet and stop bothering Jesus. After all, Jesus was important. He had more important things to do, right? You can imagine Jesus walking through the city of Jericho and about to leave the city. Crowds are all around jostling for position. People are selling their wares. There is noisy conversation. Amid all of this, Jesus hears a voice shouting for Him. It would be so easy to keep going. It would be so easy to ignore this voice and focus on other things which most people would consider more important. What did Jesus do? He stopped. He stopped. He stopped what He was doing. He stopped where He was going. He called him to come. He inquired. And then he healed him. You see, Jesus is never too busy to help people. As a human, He had limited time each day like we do and many more pressing needs. And He still made time for others. He did so because He valued each individual person, young and old, male and female, poor and rich, healthy or sick.
We should raise our children to be disciples of Jesus – The disciples apparently thought that children were too young to really understand Jesus’ message or follow Him. I have heard the same kind of thinking. People have asked me questions like the following:
“Shouldn’t you refrain from unduly influencing your child?”
“Shouldn’t you let your child grow up first and make a decision by himself?”
“Can a child really understand the Bible?”
To answer these questions, we need look no farther than this passage. Jesus has answered them already. He said, “Permit the children to come to Me…for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” The answer is very clear. Children can be part of the kingdom of God. Even more than that, in some ways they are the kingdom’s model citizens! This means that they can understand the Bible and the basic concepts inside and that “yes,” they should be taught it.
The world does not want us to teach our children the things of God. When the world says, “Wait to teach your child about the Bible until he grows up” what it means is, “Wait until we have finished brainwashing your child so that by the time you teach him the truth, he will not believe it or you anymore.”
Understand this very clearly. Jesus wants the children to go to Him. Satan does not. There is a huge battle for the minds and souls of our young ones. And Satan uses the world to try to prevent our children from coming to the Lord.
Schools brainwash our children with atheism, evolution, materialism, and relativism. The entire system is in direct opposition to the teaching of God’s Word. History is viewed through a secular lens and not through the lens of God’s hand working to direct His purposes. Science is viewed through an atheistic and evolutionary lens and not viewed through the lens of God’s perfect creation. Religion is considered to be a myth and for the superstitious and dumb. But at least the values taught will be good, right? How about sex education? The world’s idea of sex education is that everything is acceptable, just practice safe sex. Many US high schools, give out free condoms. For example in one year, DC schools handed out 200,000 condoms. Many other wrong values are taught to children. “Be who you are.” “Look out for number one.” “High test scores are the most important thing.” “Live and let live.” Do you think this is a new thing? It is not. Share on King Nebuchadnezzar’s brainwashing school.
Media also heavily influences children. According to a study in 2010, children in the US spent 7 hours and 38 minutes per day on digital media. This was seven years ago, so I can’t imagine it has gotten much better since then. This included about 4.5 hours on TV, 1.5 hours listening to music, and 1.5 hours playing video games. Cell phone usage and internet and social media have surely gone way up. I have met parents who tell me that they regularly use Ipads to babysit their children. When I asked why, the answer: “He cries if I don’t give it to him.” What are kids learning? Many music lyrics they listen to are horrific. Basically the power of television is what made homosexuality accepted around the world. Many tv shows or movies have very subtle messages inside. For example, I have noticed in many many movies that father’s trying to exercise authority over their children are portrayed as dumb, out of touch, and foolish, while the rebellious child proves to be right.
In China, this worldly mentality and brainwashing children culture effects public churches. How many children attend these churches? How many children and teenagers are baptized? The churches answer to the government. And the government wants to mold them first. So public churches are basically not allowed to reach out to kids. They say, “They are not old enough to understand or make a decision.” But Jesus, “Permit them to come to Me.”
Parents, you have a very important responsibility before God to do everything you can to raise up your child to know the Lord. It is absurd to say that it is biased or unfair to children to teach them the Bible when they are young and can’t make decisions for themselves. Is it wrong to tell your child to wear more clothes so that he won’t catch a cold? Is it wrong to tell your child to eat more fruit because it is healthier than candy? Is it wrong to tell your child not to hit his friends? Or should you wait to teach your child these things until he is old enough to discern if they are true or not? Your job is to teach your children the truth. And it is never too early to start. See Proverbs 22:6.
Quote from Troy: All this that we here suffer is through you. You should have taught us the things of God, and did not. You should have restrained us from sin and corrected us, and you did not. You were the means of our original corruption and guiltiness, and yet you never showed any competent care that we might be delivered from it. Woe unto us that we had such carnal and careless parents; and woe unto you that had no more compassion and pity to prevent the everlasting misery of your own children.
One day you will stand before God and give an account for how you raised your children. The worst possible thing I can imagine as a father is if one of my children stand at the judgment and fail and are sentenced to an eternity in hell. What can I do so that they can be ready?
Teach your children the Word from a young age. Make it simple. Make it clear. Make it fun. Then they will want it more. For example, I use different voices when reading the Bible to them, just like I do in other books. Sometimes we act out the stories. Sometimes I ask them to tell me the stories. Sometimes I ask them to color a picture of what they learned.
Ask them lots of questions. Through questions you can make sure they understand. Through questions you can lead them to correctly understand the passage. It is more powerful and easier for them to remember than simply telling them all the answers.
Talk about the things of God wherever you are. In addition to having times of family worship, you should make it a habit to talk with them at home or out on the way. By talking about the Word in natural settings they can better understand how to apply it to their everyday lives.
Be a model for your children. Practice what you share with them.
Do not rely on the pastor or Sunday School teacher or Christian school teacher. These can be good helpers. But it is your responsibility first and foremost.
Pray. Pray. Pray.
II. A disciple should follow Jesus like a child
Jesus said that the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Not only can children be part of the kingdom of God, but children also have certain characteristics which every disciple of Jesus should have.
We should depend on Him, not ourselves – Children are not independent. They do not rely on themselves for their daily living: for food, or a house, or clothes or the like. In like manner, we should rely on the Lord to provide our needs. This does not mean we sit back with a soda and relax on the beach all the time and ask God to rain down food from the sky. Neither are children supposed to be lazy. Parents should give their children tasks to help with according to their ability. We give our children tasks as well. When our kids are little, they learn early how to take their own diaper to the trash. Later they learn to take the dishes from the table to the sink or take out to the trash. They learn to sweep and clean and be a healthy functioning part of the family. God also gives us tasks according to our ability. We should fulfill these tasks. We should be diligent. But we should rely on the Lord and not on our own intelligence. (Do not trust in chariots or horses for victory comes from the Lord verse.)
We should trust Him completely – Children also are very trusting. Children naturally believe what their parents and also what other adults tell them. Children seldom worry about things. Most of the time, kids sleep a lot better than adults. Part of the reason is because they don’t feel worry and stress like we do. Instead they feel safe and secure because they trust that their parents will take care of them. Illustration: A child who has a good and loving and protective father does not worry about where his next meal is coming from. He does not worry about where he will sleep at night. He doesn’t worry about the future. Because he knows that his father will take care of him. We can have the same childlike faith in God. Jesus wants us to trust in the Father completely for our needs, big or little.
Share: Brother Andrew and his childlike faith that God would provide for him all of his needs when he needed it.
III. A disciple relies on Jesus alone for salvation
Question: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Answer: “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”
At first glance it might appear that Jesus was denying the fact that He was good. But if you read it carefully, He is not. Instead He is pointing out a flaw in the man’s thinking. The man called Him, “Good Teacher.” He thought of Jesus as a good person, but not divine. Many people today have the same opinion of Jesus. They think that Jesus was a good person who did good things, but that He is not the Son of God. Jesus wants him to think deeper. God is the only one who is perfectly good. Therefore there are two choices.
Choice #1 – Jesus is not divine and is therefore not good.
Choice #2 – Jesus is good and is therefore divine.
C.S. Lewis made a similar argument to dismiss the myth that Jesus is merely a good person. It is shown by the three words: Lunatic, Liar, Lord.
Jesus wants this man to make a choice. If in fact Jesus is divine and is perfect. Then this man should be willing to give up everything to follow him. And this man should realize that by comparison he himself is not good. So far, he did not realize that, but believed that he himself was good enough to follow the law and earn salvation on his own. In a moment we will see how Jesus tried to bring him to this point of making a decision in realizing that:
#1 He is not good and
#2 Jesus is good and worthy to be followed.
Before we go there, I will share a simple proof that shows Jesus was in fact good and did claim to be good and did claim to be God.
Jesus claims only God is good (Mark 10:18)
Jesus claims to be good (John 8:46, John 10:11)
Therefore, Jesus claims to be God.
In the next part of Jesus’ answer He continues to try to show this man that he needs help for salvation and cannot get it on his own. Remember that from the first part of our passage today, we already learned that a true disciple must follow Jesus like a child. A true disciple depends on Jesus and doesn’t rely on himself. That was this man’s problem. Jesus then shares a sample listing of some of the commandments. I believe Jesus’ hope was that this man would hear these commandments and realize that he fell short and realizing that he fell short, he would admit his need for help to Jesus. Unfortunately the man does not admit that. Instead he pridefully claims that he has done all of these. He said that he had never lied, never stolen, never cheated anyone, and never been disrespectful to his parents. I doubt his mother would agree with that opinion!
Notice Jesus’ response. Jesus was not annoyed or angry at his pride. But he looked at him and loved him. He loved this prideful self-righteous man. And he still wanted this man to be His follower.
Was Jesus proposing that the good deed of giving away his money would save him? Of course not. Jesus already said that no one is good. I believe He wanted this man to humble himself. He wanted this man to stop relying on himself and his own money. He wanted this man to stop pridefully believing he already had a good relationship with God. So Jesus issued him a challenge. There are two possibilities of this challenge:
Possibility #1 – This man could have heard the challenge and realized that he had been relying on himself instead of God. He could have realized that he had been loving money more than God. He could have realized that he was following his own desires rather than God’s. And he could have realized that he did not have a good relationship with God as he thought. In realizing these things, he could have obeyed Jesus and sacrificed all in order to follow Jesus and learn from Him. If he did repent and turn to follow Jesus, he could have become Jesus’ disciple and been saved.
Possibility #2 – The second possibility is that this man would decline. But in the process of declining, he would have to make a clear choice NOT to follow Jesus. No longer could he deceive himself that he was good and needed no help from others. He could make this choice, but then he would know very clearly where he stood, apart from God. This is in fact what happened. He went away grieving. He was grieving because he felt guilty and convicted. He knew what he should do, but he could not do it. Although he didn’t follow Jesus right away, he was still in a better position than before because he knew he was lost, but before he thought he was OK.
Note also that the fact Jesus commanded him to sell everything and follow Him shows that Jesus is good. Only someone good would be worth leaving everything to follow.
Jesus was showing this man that he should rely on God only for salvation. It cannot be earned. At the same time, he was teaching the man he should value Jesus above everything else. A disciple should be willing to follow Christ no matter what the cost. A disciple is a follower. Our job is to follow Jesus. We should follow Him wherever He leads us to and whatever He leads us away from. Jesus is the treasure in the field that the man found and gave up everything to get. He is the beautiful pearl that the merchant saw and sold everything so that he could get.
Application: What do you need to give up in order to follow Jesus? For this man, his money was holding him back. His heart and pleasure and security were attached to his money and this prevented him from being Jesus’ disciple and following Him fully. If you were to go to Jesus and talk with Him, what would he tell you that you need to give up in order to fully follow Him? Is it a job? Is it attachment to money? Is it a love of pleasure? Is it some sin that you enjoy? Think silently for a moment about what it is that is holding you back from being the disciple that you should be. If you can think of anything, that is what you need to deal with today.
It will not be easy to give these things up. Jesus said it is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. What does that mean? It means that it is impossible for this man to be saved without God’s help. You may think it is impossible for you to change to your ways. You too may face your choice of who to follow and sometimes walk away grieved like this man knowing you are too weak to do what is necessary. The lesson for you is do not rely on your own strength any longer. Nothing is impossible with God. He can help you face that and get past it if you fully turn to Him.
Conclusion: Jesus is worth giving up for because like Peter said in John 6:68, “To whom shall we go, You have the words of eternal life.”