Game of Thrones - Matthew 2:1-15 - Nate Heitzig
Matthew, chapter two, the title of the message this morning is Game of Thrones. Uh oh, hey, who's ever heard of the TV show Game of Thrones. Some of you are like, man, should
I raise my hand? Is that a Christian thing, to say that I-- I'm not sure. Well, this HBO series is currently one of the most popular shows on television. According to Nielsen ratings, over 25.7 million viewers per episode for this TV show. The season finale was watched by some 30 million people, which to give it perspective, that beat out the NBA finals, the Grammys, and the Oscars this year. The season finale was talked about on every single late night TV show. Jimmy Fallon even filmed a parody of the show called Game of Desks.
And one article on USA Today was titled, "Can a Christian Watch Game of Thrones?" And the article says this, "Is there anything morally redeeming about Game of Thrones? Does the hit HBO series even have a moral vision?" It continues by saying, "The show is certainly entertaining, almost addictively so. But therein lies the moral problem for some. The appeal of the series seems bound up in the senseless violence, not to mention the free wheeling sex. And the writers use that to dramatize this brutish world of shifting alliances. That, in turn, has prompted intense debates about whether Christians should watch Game of Thrones at all or whether the show's only possible virtue is depicting how the world would look if Christ had never been born, or what it would look like if Christianity disappeared tomorrow."
And you're saying, well, what does this have to do with what we're talking about today? What does Game of Thrones have to do-- Well, going to see today that the Bible has more intrigue, drama, and action than any TV show that we could ever find on TV, than in any movie, except for maybe America's Got Talent because there's nothing more riveting than seeing a grown man dance with cats. Come on, it doesn't get better than that, right.
No, but seriously, the Bible-- this chapter of Matthew is more exciting than an episode of Game of Thrones. As a matter of fact, in this chapter, we have more than five different kings in a story of deceit, treachery, alliances, allegiance. And we're going to see three of these kings today bow before the one true King and one King attempt to kill him. This could be an episode of Game of Thrones minus the incest and the midget.
And actually, when you get deeper into Matthew, deeper into the Bible, we find both incest and a midget. We have Herod's own son commit incest with his brother's sister. And then we have a midget, which is Achias in a tree. But that's for a future episode, not today.
On a side note, have you guys ever realized and noticed that the Bible is kind of rated R? If the Bible were to be dramatized and all these stories that we read about in Matthew and some of the stuff that David did and certainly the Song of Solomon, the Bible is kind of r-rated. The Bible is kind of gnarly. And so, if you have ever complained about the Bible being boring, you've never read the Bible because the Bible is anything but boring.
The Bible is riveting. The Bible is exciting. We read stories like this. And it's like, man, I wish that could be a TV show because that would be really fun to watch. The Bible's gnarly. The Bible's got some great stories in it.
And here is one of the most famous and loved stories in the entire Bible, a story that's told every single year at Christmas as we think of the three kings bowing before Jesus in the manger and presenting their gifts. Now, unfortunately though, through tradition and even distortion, this incredible story has been, in many ways, stripped of its real significance and meaning. And so in order to understand this today, we're going to have to strip away the mythology and the tradition to see it as it's laid out clearly in scripture. And so I'm warning you, if you ever want to look at your nativity the same way, you might want to plug your ears because we're going to see today that it's a little bit different than the way we pictured it when we were kids.
But at its core, this story is really a story of true and false worshippers. Church, my desire is that each and every one of us would be true worshipers, that our lives would be a life of worship. And this is a story of true and false worshipers. And when I say false worshipers, I'm not talking about the guy in the back who pretends to know the words to "Amazing Grace", but he's secretly peeking out of his eyes at the screen so he looks holier. That's not what I'm talking about for false worshippers.
But as we look at this story, we're going to be confronted with whether or not we are true worshippers. It's funny to me, as we read this story, that those who should have known the most about worship really knew the least. And those who should have known the least, somehow, some way, seem to know the most. And in them, we're going to see worship as it should be.
And here it is. In reality, man's ultimate purpose in life, your purpose, your goal, the reason you were created, isn't to attain success. It's not to get fame. It's not even to achieve happiness. Hey, it's 4th of July weekend. But guess what? The goal of your life isn't to be happy unlike America wants to tell you.
The goal of your life, the reason you were created, is to know God and to worship him. Some people live their entire lives trying to make themselves the King. Some people live their entire lives playing this Game of Thrones, trying to put themself on the throne, trying to be the ruler and the King of their life. Some people live their entire lives refusing to give up the throne and letting God reign.
But life is all about giving up and letting God reign. Revelations 4:11 says, "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things. And by Your will, they existed and were created." Let's read our text, Matthew chapter 2, verse 1 through 15. It's going to be up on the screens here if you didn't bring a Bible.
"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.' When Herod heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and the scribes of the peoples together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
So they said to him, 'In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.' Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared.
And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, 'Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me that I may come and worship Him also.' When they heard the King, they departed; and behold, the star which had been seen in the East went before them, until it came and stood over where the young Child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.
And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary, His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream saying, 'Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word, for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him'. When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod that it might be fulfilled that which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, 'Out of Egypt I have called my Son.'"
Now in this story before us, we have a series of true and false worshippers. And we're going to see three different kinds of worshippers, three different responses that we can have to Jesus. Number one, we're going to see true worshippers. We're going to see these worshipping rulers.
Number two, we're going to see the worried ruler. And that is this response that many have to Jesus of worry, of fear, of animosity, and hostility, for the fear that Jesus is going to try to take control of their lives. And then third and finally, we're going to see worthless religion. And we're going to see a lot of people who, today, are simply apathetic towards Jesus.
They don't really want anything to do with him. They're not really concerned with him. They're more concerned with religion. They're more concerned with just going to church and thinking and tricking themselves, really, lying to themselves that everything's OK.
First we see worshipping rulers. Now, I want to give you some history. And again, I said, after this, you're never going to look at your nativity scene the same way. But I said we're going to strip away some of the mythology and tradition and get to the root of this story. Look at verse 1.
It says, after Jesus was born. And so the first question we have is, how long after Jesus was born because we're taught from kids that Jesus was born. And then a couple of hours later these wise show up and give gifts to this infant baby Jesus. But look at verse 11, it says, that Jesus was, at this point, in a house, not a stable. The wise men came to his house. Jesus was, therefore, already dedicated in the temple at this point. So this was possibly two years later after the birth of Jesus.
This was not a birth. This was a birthday party. This was the shepherds coming to Jesus' second birthday, you could say, bringing him gifts in celebration. And can I just point out because this is just how my mind works when I read these stories-- So random thought because I used to have two-year-olds. Two-year-olds stink. Anyone who says differently hasn't had a two-year-old in a while.
They're cute. They're adorable. But there's a reason they call it the terrible twos, right, because two-year-olds, literally, they stink because you're trying to potty train them. And they're peeing in their pants all the time. But then also they just have this attitude. But then I read this, and I always wonder what kind of a toddler Jesus was.
Did he just always listen? Was he instantly potty trained? And Mary was like, hey, Jesus stop going potty in your pants. And he's like, all right, fine. I'm God. I'll stop peeing in my pants. Did he never throw a tantrum or cry? I've got to wonder, were the other moms like, why is Jesus so well-behaved? And Mary's like, I've been telling you for two years he's God.
You don't believe me. In other words, let's get back to the story. The wise man were definitely not at the stable when Jesus was born. No, they came a couple of years after. This star led them there, which means the star as well was there for a long period of time. As we look at the orbit of the planets, the star was beckoning, which, for me, actually makes it more miraculous, that the star wasn't just there and gone. It stayed there. It stayed in this pattern of leading the wise men to Jesus.
Look at verse 1. We're introduced to our worshipping rulers, the true worshippers. First one says, now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem. Now, these wise men, the word for them is magi, magi. And we see that tradition tells us there were three wise men or Three Kings that came to visit Jesus.
We see here scripture's actually silent. We don't know how many there were. It was probably much more likely that there was more than three. There was probably a host of those that came to visit Jesus at His home. And it was probably not just wise man. But it was probably an army that came with them.
These were representatives from the Medo-Persian Babylonian Empire that came from the East. They wouldn't have traveled alone, especially into enemy territory. They would have brought with them, most likely, a group, an army of people, that would have been with them. So next time you set up your nativity set, bring out some of your kid's toy soldiers and put them there as well because that was more likely the scenario that we witnessed at the home of Jesus for that second birthday.
Now, these were men that were highly revered and respected in their culture. They were highly skilled in astronomy, astrology, in various occult practices, including sorcery. And they were especially noted for their ability to interpret dreams. Now, do these guys remind you of anybody?
There we go. They're from the Medo-Persian Babylonian Empire. They can interpret dreams. Daniel. Daniel was part of this order of the Magi, of the wise men. And doesn't it now make sense of, why do these men from Babylon know of a coming King of Messiah? Why did they know to follow a star? Well, because Daniel told them. Daniel had set up long ago an understanding of who this Messiah would be, who this King would be.
What does that have to do with you? Only this, you don't think one person can change an entire culture? Think again. One man, Daniel, lived a righteous life in a place called Babylon. One man, Daniel, rose up and believe that he could live a righteous lifestyle even when no one else around him was. And that one man changed the culture so much so that, thousands of years later, when a man named Jesus was born, people, high ranking officials from Babylon in the Persian Empire, knew of Jesus and knew that He was the one true King.
So you can make a difference. You think you can't make a difference in your family and your job place in this city? Think again. You can make a difference. You can bring about a revival in this city if you trust and follow Jesus.
Now, these Magi, it's from their names that our words magic and magician are derived. And because of their knowledge of science, mathematics, history, and the occult, their religious and political influence continued to grow until these men began the most prominent and powerful group of advisors in the Medo-Persian and Babylonian empires. So when you hear magician, don't think Sylvia's psychic hotline kind of magician like let me tell you your fortune.
These guys were the Nobel Peace Prize winners of their day. They were the cream of the crop, the top of the barrel, science, mathematics, building, architecture. They were brilliant.
But despite all the success they achieved, reaching the top of their post, getting the best promotions, having the best jobs, having all the knowledge and the wealth, it all proved empty. And they went searching for the true wisdom and the true King. Like the Ethiopian who came to Jerusalem searching for God, they came searching for God.
Look at Verse 2, they ask a simple question, where is He? He was to be born King of the Jews. Where is He? They went searching for Him. They wanted to find Him. They come to Jerusalem, this city of incredible spiritual significance, not just in Israel but in all of the East in that time. This was an incredibly influential city, spiritually.
Later, this same city would recognize the true King by crowning Him with thorns and killing Him. His throne wouldn't be in a palace. His throne would be on the cross. There is no room for Him. In the end, it seemed that the only place for Jesus was on the cross
And these men, they come searching for Him to do, what? Look at Verse 2, that we may worship Him. This is what I said before. The people who are the least likely to be true worshippers are the true worshippers in this scenario. These people were familiar in occult practices. They were magicians. They were sorcerers. And these people, who were the least likely-- they came from a pagan background. They were seekers of truth.
And I'm reminded of Jeremiah 29:13, it says, and you will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. See, church, whenever I talk to somebody and I'm sharing the gospel with them, I always love to hear when they say, well, I'm in the process of searching. I'm in the process of seeking. I'm looking at all the evidence. I've read the Bible. And I'm in this process of discovering, of looking at the evidence to discern what is true.
I personally love hearing that because I'm convinced that anybody who truly seeks, anybody who truly looks at the evidence, it will always come back. It will always point to Jesus. It will always reveal the truth, the reality, that there is one true God who died for their sins. His name was Jesus. He rose from the dead. And he loves you desperately. I'm convinced that if you truly search, if you truly look at the evidence, it will always come back to Jesus.
And so when someone tells me they're searching, it's not necessarily a bad thing if they're actually searching. Some people just say their search is an excuse. I'm just searching. And they're not really looking. They've never read the Bible. They're not looking at evidence. But if they really want a search, I'll help them with their search. I'll encourage them to read some books. I'll give them some resources that I think can help them in their search for Jesus Christ. Searching isn't a bad thing if you're actually searching with your whole heart.
It says that they came to worship Him. This word worship is full of meaning. It expresses the idea of falling down, of kissing the feet or the hem of the garment of the honored One. This word worship would be used when you came into the throne room of a King. And instead of standing up prideful in who you were, you fell to your knees. You averted your gaze. You gave honor where honor was due. You kissed the feet, at the hem of the garment, of this ruler.
And church, can I ask you what your posture is when you come into worship? When you hear worship, what do you think of? You think of just songs that you sing? Do you think of, maybe, raising your hands or, what I to call, doing the pound cake? It looks like you're holding a pound cake that you're bringing to Jesus or something. Or do you like the ninja worship where you can have your hand in but it's kind of turned outwards? You're like, I'm worshipping, but nobody knows.
What does worship means to you? Worship isn't just songs. We're saying worship isn't just some hand motions we do. Worship is a lifestyle. Worship is us coming into the throne room of God and recognizing, Lord, You are holy. You are on the throne. You have all supremacy, your rulership, your reign. I want to submit my life to who You are, to what You have done.
I want to take myself off the throne and recognize that only You are the King. I want to give it all to you.
I want to worship you. I heard an incredible worship leader, Brooke Ligertwood, from Hillsong worship, talking about this topic of worship and submission. And she was talking that, too many people today, we get in this culture in America of wanting to take the praise and the honor of ourselves. And there's a balance between receiving honor and praise and having false humility in Jesus, juking people anytime they want to give you a compliment.
Have you ever heard someone who's like, hey, you did a great job today. Oh no, no, only Jesus did a great job on the cross, that Jesus juke. Every time you're like, just stop it. Just accept the compliment.
She was talking about this. And she said when someone compliments you, don't deflect the compliment. Instead take that compliment as a flower and put that flower in your pocket. And as you received those flowers throughout the day, at the end of the day, when you get home, get on your knees. Pull those flowers out. And give a bouquet to Jesus. And let him know how great He is, how incredible He is, how powerful He is.
Look it's, OK to try. It's OK to achieve. It's OK to do good things. Just make sure you're giving that back to Jesus, that you're giving honor where honor is due. And you're saying, Lord, I'm not doing this for myself. I'm doing it for You. I'm a servant in Your kingdom. So any honor and praise that I get is honor and praise for You, Lord, because it's Your honor and Your praise that I'm living for.
It's important to note true worship is an attitude of life. It's not just a singular action. It's a lifestyle. It's a way that you live. Look at verse 11. Verse 11 says, and when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary, His mother. They fell down, and they worshiped Him. And they opened their treasures and presented gifts to Him.
Their worship showed itself in practical ways. And I love that this was all the same action, falling down and worshipping him and presenting treasures to Him. It was part of their worship. The giving was not so much an addition to worship as it was an element of worship. The gifts were an expression of worship, given as an overflow of their adoring and grateful hearts.
And church, this is why we always say when we give, when we enter a time of offering, that we're going to worship God through our gifts to Him. Worship should never come as a begrudging bitter thing that you have to do. I got to give to the church. I got to give a tenth of my offering to God.
It should never come as a forced thing in your life. It should come as an outpouring overflow of your love for Jesus Christ. It's part of our worship to Him. We don't give Him money because He needs it. He's the God of a cattle on 1,000 hills. Do you think He needs your cow? No, He doesn't need it.
We give because it does something to us. When we realize that not just our lives but our pocketbooks are subject to the glory and the majesty of God, we realize that what we have, the bouquets of compliments, the job we have, the finances we have, it's all for the Kingdom of God, not for ourselves. It's all in subject to the King on the throne.
When we put our lives in that light, it causes us to live differently. It causes us to have a looser grip on the things that we have. When somebody wrongs us or hurts us, it doesn't hurt our pride because we realize they're really just hurting our King. It doesn't hurt our pride. It doesn't make us feel less than when people talk to us in a way that we feel we don't deserve. When we live our lives in a lifestyle worship, it changes the way we treat those who are also living in the kingdom. Worship is an attitude. Right worship is always and must always be the only basis for giving and serving.
See, some people come to church with these great expectations. They expect some deep Revelation from God. They expect a passionate worship experience. They expect to hear their favorite song played by the band. But let me tell you, if you haven't been worshipping God for the last six days, it's impossible for you to have a meaningful worship experience on the seventh day.
Our worship in church is completely meaningless unless it's preceded by and prepared for by the worship in our life. If you don't live a lifestyle of worship, you can't come to church and expect to have a great Sunday. It doesn't work. Worship has to be in our lives.
But even, as these wise men were true worshippers, we find the scribes, the chief priests, and the Pharisees, and Herod himself as false ones point, number two is a worried ruler. We saw worshipping rulers and true worshippers. Now we see a worried ruler.
Look at verse 4 through 7. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and the scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, in Bethlehem of Judea. For thus, it is written by the prophet. But you, Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.
Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared, Herod was one of the most shrewd and clever yet paranoid kings of all time. At times Herod could be perceived as benevolent or even kind like the time of economic hardship where he gave back tax money to the people that had been collected for the temple or the famine of 25 B.C. where Herod took gold from his own palace and melted it down in order to buy food for the poor.
Herod was also a great builder. As a matter of fact, did you know that the word architecture is derived from the family name of Herod. That's actually not true. I have no idea where architecture came from. I just wanted to sound smart. It sounds like something my dad would say on a Wednesday night or something. I don't.
Herod built the beautiful port city of Caesarea. He built the Winter Palace of Masada, an impenetrable fortress complete with a sauna and swimming pool 2000 years ago. But the second any threat against his power or his rule surfaced, he would become a maniacal killer. He killed his wife. He had his three sons executed. The saying of his day was that it's better to be one of Herod's pigs than one of his sons. So don't ever complain to me about how bad your parents are. They've never tried to kill you for taking over the family business.
This guy was crazy. He had the most distinguished citizens of Israel arrested. And he gave orders that, upon his death, they would be executed in order to ensure that all of Israel would mourn on the day of his death. His entire life was a life of plotting and execution, a life of alliances and broken alliances.
His life was like an episode of Game of Thrones. Anyone who would try to be the king instead of him would be murdered. His son, Herod Antipas, even slept with his brother's wife. See, I promised incest. This guy was crazy. Look at verse 3.
Verse 3 tells us Herod's response to this King of the Jews. When Herod the King heard this, he was troubled and all Jerusalem with him. The word used here for troubled means that he was agitated. He was stirred up. It conveys the idea of panic. His supremacy was in jeopardy. And he was scared for what could happen.
This same word also appears to describe Belshazzar's fright when he saw the writing on the wall. He sees God's hand come in, Meny, Meny, Tekel, Upharsin. You have been weighed. You have been tried. You've been found wanting. Hey, your days are numbered, bro.
That's what Herod sees. Hey, the King of Kings is coming. And He wants your throne. Verse 3 says he was troubled, and all Jerusalem was troubled with him. By bitter experience, Jerusalem knew that if Herod was troubled, it was only a matter of time until they would be, too. In other words, all Jerusalem was afraid because of this suppose threat that many, many more could die as a result of it.
And they were right. Herod eventually kills all these children in Israel, in Jerusalem, because of this threat. I want you to imagine Herod's response when he sees these men of importance arriving. Keep in mind, the typical costume of the Magi, of the wise men, would have included a long cone shaped hat like those that we associate with wizards. So they're coming in with like wizards hats and these big robes and these costumes.
They wouldn't have been riding on camels. Rather, they would have been galloping in on Persian's steeds or Arabian horses. So picture Dumbledore cruising in on secretariat. This was kind of scary. And they would have been coming with an army. So it's like Voldemort's army or something in Harry Potter. This could have been a really scary situation for Herod.
They must have been an imposing sight. But since we know Herod was quite egotistical, he might have seen them coming and thought, oh, they're coming to worship me. They're coming to praise me. They're coming to trade with me. They're coming to build an alliance or honor me. And so it definitely pushed Herod's button when they said, where is He who has been born King of the Jews?
And you say, well, why is that such a big deal? Keep in mind, King of the Jews was Herod's title given to him by Caesar himself upon the day of Herod's coronation. So when they said, where is the King of the Jews, he's like, I'm the King of the Jews. No, no, no, no there's a star. He's somewhere over there.
That simple phrase pushed Herod's button. In a way, it infuriated him. Yet in verse 8, Herod responds to these wise men and says, where is He that I might worship him, also? Now, we know Herod didn't want to worship the King of the Jews. This was deceit. This was espionage.
Herod was a false worshipper. In reality, Herod was hostile to God. Herod wanted to destroy, to uproot, to oppose. He was masquerading as a worshipper of God.
Church, seems like there's many today who are masquerading as worshippers. There's many today who say the right things, who know the right songs, but they're actually a Herod in the church today. Outwardly, they appear religious pros. But they're living a lie. They're living a lie.
And this is why I hate Christianese. Do you guys know what Christianese is? It's talking in a way that no one understands unless you're a Christian. So you walk up to somebody and say, hey, how's your walk, bro? My walk's fine. I'm moving my feet. They're great. No, no, how's your walk, bro?
It's like this Christianese. It's this weird lingo that only Christians know and understand. And if you're not a Christian, you look at it, and you're like, what are they talking about? The problem is sometimes we can hide behind the way that we. we can hide behind the things that we say, the verses that we know, the songs that we sing. And we can really be using it as a facade to make the other people in the church think that, oh man, they're professional Christian. They know the lingo. They know the talk.
I'm not saying it's always bad. It's OK to talk to believers in a way that believers understand. But sometimes we use it as a way to hide like Ananias and Sapphira They pretended to be worshippers when, in reality, they were just liars. Jesus said, why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do what I say?
Verse John 2:4 says, he who says, I know Him and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. See, the danger of lying like this is that you're not fooling God. But you begin to fool yourselves. And if you lie to yourself long enough, eventually you'll become inoculated to the truth. And you'll believe the lie.
And so when you hear the altar call, you hear the opportunity for repentance, you'll say no, no, no, no, honey. I'm good. You say, I'm good. I don't need Jesus. I'm all right. I'm doing OK.
And you've inoculated yourself the truth. You might not really be OK. But you've lied to yourself for long enough that you just think you're OK because you grew up in the church, because you were born into a Christian home, because you can play Bible trivia like nobody's business. You think that all those things mean that you're all right. Finding out that the wise men had not told him where the Messiah was, Herod became outraged. He lost control. He went on a killing spree, hoping to eradicate the Messiah from the face of the earth.
Nothing's really changed. There are still those today who seek to destroy Jesus Christ. They don't want the name of Jesus preached in schools. They don't want the name of Jesus in politics. They don't want you to talk to them about Jesus. Jesus is a threat to them. He opposes them. And so they want to eradicate Jesus from every area of life.
Herod's primary fear was that someone would take his throne. And lots of people are just like him. They won't allow anything or anyone to interfere with their career or their lifestyle. Just ask their kids. They don't want anyone messing with their position or their power, with their ambition or their plans.
They won't let anyone else be the king of their lives. They see Jesus as a threat. People don't mind taking work off to commemorate Jesus' birth. They'll even embrace him as a resource if they get into trouble. They'll have him as their copilot as long as he doesn't try to take control.
Let me tell you, Jesus doesn't want to be your copilot. He wants to be the pilot. He doesn't even want you to be the copilot. You want you to sit in the backseat and shut up. Go for the ride. He doesn't need you telling Him what to do. He knows exactly what He's doing. You just need to trust Him. You need to give Him control.
But the first time that Jesus wants to do something that they don't want to do, that's the end of it. I wanted nothing to do with Him. No, He wants me to do what? No, I've worked my entire life to achieve this. Why would I leave that job and go do that thing? They view Him as a threat They are as afraid of losing control of their own lives as Herod was of losing his throne. They see Jesus as someone who interferes with their lives.
John 3:19 says, this is the verdict. Light has come into the world. But men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
So we've seen the true worshippers, the worshipping rulers. We've seen the bitter hatred and animosity of the worried ruler. And third, we're going to see worthless religion.
Look at verse 4. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and the scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. And they said to him in Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet. But you, Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.
The scribes and the chief priests should have known better. Isn't it crazy to you how quickly they had an answer for Herod? It didn't even take them a second. Hey, where's this King of the Jews supposed to be born? Oh yeah, just right over there in Bethlehem. Yeah, yeah, yeah, right, it's about the time. He should be there right now.
It would almost be like if someone said, hey, how do you get to Calvary. Oh yeah, just go down Osuna, take a ride at Washington. There's some basketball courts and the volleyball courts. Yeah, it's great. Have a fun time. They knew exactly where he was supposed to be. They knew exactly the spot. Oh, that star? Yeah, kind of where that giant bright star is shining, kind of right over there.
And they didn't even take a second to go, look, they appear before us as false worshipers. These scribes knew the scriptures inside and out. They numbered the letters and the lines in order to make sure they copied it perfectly. Jesus said of these men, you search the scriptures because you think, in them, you have eternal life. And it is these scriptures that bear witness to me that you are unwilling to come to me that you might have life
They were the theological scholars of the day. It was their business to study the scriptures. And Herod was justified in expecting an answer from them. And upon interpreting this prophecy of Micah, you would have expected them to drop everything they were doing and run to Bethlehem, to get there as quick as they could to investigate the evidence. And yet these who knew so much understood so little.
See, they didn't care anything for a baby King. Addressing this attitude at a later date, Jesus said, you hypocrites. Well did Isaiah prophesied of you saying these people draw near unto me with their mouth. They honor me with their lips. But their hearts are far from me. In vain do they worship me.
These are the men who Jeremiah broken-heartedly the lamented, is it nothing to all you who pass this way? Well, these people knew they did not obey. These religious leaders had all the facts. They just didn't care.
See, the real problem here was that they were just indifferent. They were indifferent and didn't care. They had no real heart behind it. They did all the right things. But there was no heart behind it.
You know what the root of indifference usually is? It's pride. It's pride. We become prideful. And so we think we're OK. We think we've got it all together. We think we know all the answers. And so we become indifferent to the needs of those around us. We become indifferent to the truth.
And can I let you know? Pride is a huge serious issue in the church today. Pride is a huge issue today. And it breaks my heart when we see things go on politically, and I see the church's response, taking a political side instead of a Christian side. When I see Christians become super prideful and say, oh man, well, those immigrants who are locked up, well, they broke the law, so they deserve to be in prison.
Regardless of whether or not that's true or not, when it comes time, we see people who are hurting, people who are broken, we need to take the side of Christ, not the side of a Republican Party or a Democratic Party
Look, when we see people who are hurting, it doesn't matter why they're hurting. Jesus called us to love those who are hurting, to help those who are persecuted. It doesn't matter why they're persecuted. And we need to start looking at life not on the edge of what political party we fall on but standing in the middle and saying, look, we love you all. Come, there's room at the cross for everybody. There's room at the foot of Jesus for everybody. We love you. We care for you.
When we see a mom who got an abortion, let's not ridicule her and say, well, I can't believe you did that. You took an unborn life. That might be true, but that's not what she needs to hear at that moment. She needs to hear that she has value, that she is loved, that she is cared for.
When an immigrant gets separated from their family, they don't need to hear, well, you did that you deserve that. They need to hear, I'm sorry. That must be heartbreaking. I couldn't imagine losing my child. You are loved. You are cared for. There's a place for you in the church.
Church, our response as Christians shouldn't be of prideful indifference. It should be of humble love. You can have your political views. I'm not telling you not to. I do. I'm not going to tell you which side I fall on because that would just polarize.
But our response always needs to be the response of Christ, not the response of politics.
These men were too busy with themselves to be concerned about Jesus. These men had a political response. They just stayed where they were because their pockets are being lined by Herod. They were happy to just get money from Herod.
In fact, when Jesus began His public ministry, these men became His chief adversaries. They hated, they despised Him. They ultimately plotted His murder. They didn't want Him. They didn't think they needed Him. They had become callous, spiritually immature to the truth.
And church, this is the danger of studying the word without the desire to apply it. As James tells us, he is like a man who looks at himself in the mirror and forgets what he looks like. Man, I guess a lot of people who go to define fitness forget what they look like because they're always like, ooh, look at that. They're always looking at themselves in the mirror. Anyone who works out can relate with this verse.
There's so many today who are false worshippers because they don't apply what they know. They remain passive, lackadaisical, lukewarm. These people were so busy with religious ritual, they missed the arrival of their long awaited Messiah. And when He came to them, they ultimately crucified Him outside their walls.
See the problem was Jesus didn't fit into their system. They were looking for a Messiah who would be a conquering hero, not a little baby in a manger. They wanted a leader who'd support their religious system. But Jesus opposed everything that it stood for.
And in the same way, people today like this are the hardest to reach with the good news. Look, give me someone who's hardened in their sin, who's even bitter to Christ, who has animosity and anger towards Christ. I'd rather witness to that person than the person who thinks that they're OK, than the person who rests in their religion, who rests in their rituals, who thinks that because they grew up in the church, they're fine. I'd rather witness to the person stuck in sin than the person who thinks they can earn their salvation because there's nothing we can say that they don't know.
They're so stuck in a cycle of worthless the religion that they miss the relationship. Make no mistake about it, religion can be a deadly trap. Rules and rituals enable people to feel spiritual when they're not. Religion can damn people to hell just as much as immorality.
I want to close you by reading Romans chapter 12, verse 1. And as we look at these three different people, this is my hope. This is my heart for you, for I. I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Church, I desire that we would be true worshipers, that we wouldn't just worship in word but we would worship an action, that we wouldn't just worship in song but that our lives would be a living sacrifice that would come into the throne room of the King and we would live a lifestyle of submission to Him who is on the throne. Let me tell you, in the Game of Thrones, you want to lose. This game is won by losing.
You succeed through surrender. And before you disregard a statement like this, understand that you will never find fulfillment in life, no matter how many relationships you have with people, no matter how many possessions you accumulate, no matter how many pleasures you have, no matter how much sex you have, no matter how many parties you go to, no matter how many fifth's of vodka you drink, or how many drugs you do, or how much money you make. You will never be happy until you enter into a relationship with God and you live for him.
As Jesus said, everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks of the water that I give him will never be thirsty again because that water will give him and spring up in him an overwhelming well of eternal life. Speaking to the woman at the well, Jesus said to her, true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.
Church, there is both a true and a false worship, an acceptable and an unacceptable worship. Cain and Abel represent this. Both raised in a godly home. Both heard the word of God. But one was a true worshipper, and one was a false worshipper. One was accepted. The other was rejected.
And I always wonder what the ratio is at church. How many are really worshipping, and how many are just pretending? Really, only you know if you love God or not. Only you can answer that question. Well, my prayer's that God would help us to be true worshipers, that He would help us not to fall into the trap of the scribes who knew the word yet had little no real impact in their daily life, that we wouldn't be like the wicked Herod who never really had any desire to worship Him but instead was playing a dangerous game with his soul that he really lost.
My prayer's that we'd be like the wise men, that we would come to worship Him with right hearts, giving Him the gifts of our lives. You believe that? Let's pray.
Lord, we thank You for Your word. We thank You for the truth that it reveals. Lord, I pray that You'd make us true worshippers, that we wouldn't just have this false sense of spiritual arrogance, this pride that leads to indifference, thinking we're better than others but in reality, we're just lying to ourselves, that we wouldn't have this animosity and hatred towards God, that we're scared of losing control.
But we give You control, realize that when we give You control, that's where true happiness is found. That's where true contentment is found, that in this Game of Thrones, we want you on the throne, Lord. And as we're praying right now, as we have our eyes closed and our heads bowed, I recognize that there's probably people from different walks of life. Maybe in here, and you don't know Jesus.
You don't have a relationship with him. Maybe at one time you even hated God. You're scared of what it means to give up control of your life. You need to know that when you give up control, you're going to really start to experience the joy that you've been so looking for and craving. The things that you think you're going to have to give up are really the things that are holding you back from the life that you were meant to live.
Or maybe you're here, and you grew up in the church. You know all the Bible verses. You think you're OK. You think you're all right. But as you hear this message, you hear that still small voice in your heart whispering, it's not too late. Come back. Start walking with me. Start living for me. Jesus is whispering to you. Don't silence that whisper because you don't know how long that whisper will last.
If you're here and you want to give your life to Jesus as you did for the first time or you want to rededicate your life and give your life to Him, again, and start walking with Him, I just want to raise your hand. You're saying, Nate, pray for me. I need Jesus.
I want to know that when I die-- amen, right over here. I want to know that when I die that I'm going to go to heaven. In back to my right, anyone else just raise your hand. Several of you over here to my right. And anyone else? In the balcony, a few of you in the balcony. Right here to my left.
Look, you don't want to wait to the day when you stand before Jesus. You want to make sure right now that your life is right with him. Anyone else, just raise up your hand before we pray. Amen, right here.
Well, Lord, I thank You for all these that have raised their hands and acknowledged their need for You. I pray that You would help them to actualize the promises of God in their lives, that they wouldn't just be hearers of the word, they will be doers of the word. That it wouldn't just be something they say, but it would be something they do. In Jesus' name, we pray, amen.
And hey, would you stand? We're going to close in one chorus of a song. We're already a little over time. So I'm not going to belabor this and take a long time. But if you raise your hand up, acknowledging your need for Jesus, either to give your life to Him for the first time or to rededicate your life to Him, I want you to, right now, as we sing this song, get up from wherever you are and come down here to the front and say a prayer to accept Jesus Christ.
You say, Nate, hold on. I'm all about raising my hand in a room when no one's looking, but you want me to actually take a step of faith? I do. And here's why. If you can't stand for Jesus here in a room full of people that love Him, how are you going to do in the world hates Him? This is going to cement your faith. This is going to strengthen your faith. This is going to do something in your heart.
That as you leave these rooms, as you walk out of this world, you're going to be emboldened and strengthened with your love for Jesus Christ. So you come right now. What do you have to lose? You're going to lose the guilt. You're going to lose the shame. You're going to lose the hopeless. You're going to lose the logging.
But you're going to receive eternal life. You're going to receive peace. You're going to receive the joy of Jesus Christ. So let's leave behind the things of this world, and let's cling to God. If you're in the balcony, we will wait for you. We're going to sing this right now. But you come, you come right now.
(SINGING) We will come to the alter. The Father's arms are opened wide. Forgiveness, was born with the precious love of Jesus Christ.
If you're coming, we'll still wait for you. I just want to ask you, what it is that might be holding you back? Perhaps you raised your hand, but you're still just not coming forward. Maybe you're scared of what people think.
I will let you know what they're going to think. They're going to think that they're sinners as well, that they need the grace and the love of Jesus Christ just like you do. Look, you're in a room full of imperfect people. You have no idea what I've done. You have no idea the ways that I've sinned, the ways that I've hurt the heart of Christ, the ways that I've hurt my wife in the past. You have no idea what my life looks like. I'm a sinner just like you in need of grace of Jesus Christ.
So you come acknowledge that need for grace. And you say, well, I'll do it next time. I'll do it next week. I'll do it next month. Look, you don't know if you have next week. You don't know if you have next month. You could die in a car crash on the way home today.
And if you were to stand before Jesus today, would He say, depart from me. I never knew you were well done, good and faithful servant. You leave this place, knowing that when you die, you're going to go to heaven. Anyone else, right now, you come. We're not going to say this again, but you come right now.
If God's still calling you, you come. There's a place for you at the foot of the cross. There's a place for you in this place with this family in this church. You're loved. You're cared for. I don't care what your life looks like. Anyone else? Amen.
Well, I'm going to lead those who have come in a prayer to accept Jesus Christ. And this is a simple prayer. You're not going to say this prayer and levitate or all of a sudden have the force powers. What you're going to get is you're going to get an assurance in your heart, knowing that your sins are forgiven. You are going to get a knowledge that, when you die, you're going to go to heaven. And you're going to be given the power of the Holy Spirit to equip you to live a life for Jesus.
And so when we say this prayer, I want you to say out loud. Most importantly, I want you to say it meaningly, meaningful, from your heart. And say it to Jesus. You ready? Lord, I know that I'm a sinner.
I know that I've done many things that have hurt You. But Lord, I believe You died for those things. And I believe You rose from the dead. So I ask You to come into my life, fill me with your Holy Spirit, help me to live for you. In Jesus', name I pray.
Amen, come on, let's give them a round of applause. Stay here for just a second.
We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.