As we wrap up the 2018 Christmas Convention, there are a few issues on my heart I want to share with you. The message will be based on the popular Christmas scripture, Matthew 2.1-12. This chapter records the story of the birth of Jesus and the announcement by the wise men. The theme of our convention was taken from verse 2 but I will try to raise issues from the entire passage. The topic for this morning’s discussion is The king and his worship.
Let’s begin with verses 1 and 2.
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 saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2.1-2 ESV)
We know the background to this scripture that after the birth of Christ, some wise men saw his star and came to inquire from Herod where this Jesus, whom they described as the king of the Jews, had been born.
Three important offices in the Old Testament
There are three important offices that I want you to take note of. In the Old Testament, there were three offices that God called people into. These are the office of the priest, that of the prophet, and that of the king.
The office of the priest
This office was given to Aaron and his descendants—the tribe of Levi. Their main duty was to represent the nation before God. So, the priests went before God and carried the nation to God. Exodus 28.9-10, which talks about the priestly garments of the Israelites, says,
You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth. (Exodus 28.9-10 ESV)
Verse 12 says,
And you shall set the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel. And Aaron will bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for remembrance. (Exodus 28.12 ESV)
So the priests carried the names of the tribes of Israel and whenever they went before God, they carried the names of the children of Israel before God, our king.
The office of the prophet
The second office that was important in the Old Testament era was the office of the prophet. This office was not given to any particular tribe but their main duty was to represent God before men. Note the difference between this office and that of the priest. The priests represented the nation before God while the prophets, as it were, brought God to the nation.
In Jeremiah, it is written,
But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from the evil of their deeds. (Jeremiah 23.22 ESV)
The prophets were supposed to sit in the council of God—the meeting of God—so they would know the mind of God and bring it to the nation. Thus, the priests went before God carrying the nation but the prophets came to the nation with the word of God.
The office of the king
Another important office in the Old Testament was the office of the king. This was given to the tribe of Judah. They were to rule and lead God’s people—it was a position of leadership. A king is a person who exercises royal authority and sovereignty.
Jesus is the only one who operated in all three offices
In the Old Testament, you were either a prophet, or a priest, or a king. There were only two people who were both prophets and priests otherwise you could not combine the three positions. But I have some good news for the church. There is a man called Jesus Christ who has become our priest, our prophet, and our king. In the era of the Law, you were either a priest, a prophet, or a king, but thanks be to God, he has given us a gift—the person of Jesus Christ—who is not only a priest, but also a prophet, and not only a prophet, but also a king. So, Jesus has become my priest, my prophet, and my king.
Jesus is our personal priest, prophet, and king
We are in an era where people have their own pastors and prophets. Somebody told me the other day that in this world you must get your personal lawyer, doctor, and pastor. I understood how one needed a personal lawyer and doctor but I wondered why one also needed a personal pastor. He said, “So that in times of trouble you can call on him.”
We have our personal priest and prophet. And, the good news is that, that priest and prophet also doubles as king. That is why nobody can deceive me. When it comes to the prophetic, Jesus is my prophet; when it comes to the priesthood, his is my priest, and when it comes to royalty, he is my king—and his kingdom stretches from shore to shore.
Jesus is not an ordinary man. He is a priest, a prophet, and a king—one person that combines these three important offices. However, today, God wants me talk about his kingship.
A. Jesus is our king and his kingship was prophesied before his birth
The scriptures reveal in their entirety that Jesus is a king. The first thing you should understand is that his kingship was prophesied long before his birth. Before he was born there had been a prophetic word concerning his kingship.
Isaiah 32.1 says, “Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice.” (Isaiah 32.1 ESV) The king was Jesus. Isaiah the prophet saw it long beforehand and prophesied about it.
Jeremiah also prophesied about it saying, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king…” (Jeremiah 23.5 ESV)
May I announce to you that that king has been born and he is Jesus Christ.
B. He himself, as well as others, testified about his kingship
The second thing to note is that sometimes people give you titles and call you names that you yourself know you don’t merit. But this king, when talking about his kingship, testified about himself that, “Yes, I am the king.” Pilate asked him, “Are you a king?” and Jesus answered, “You are right when you say so.”
In another scripture he was asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?” and Jesus replied, “It is as you say.” (Luke 23.3) The man himself knew he was king. He knew that he reigned and he knew that, as he walked the streets of Jerusalem, he was not just an ordinary person but a king..
There are two important things about his kingship.
i. His kingdom has unlimited jurisdiction and has no boundary
His kingdom has unlimited jurisdiction. It does not have a boundary. His kingdom stretches from shore to shore. Earthly kingdoms have boundaries and jurisdictions. When you are king in Atomic, you cannot stretch the kingdom to Dome or Kwabenya because those areas also have their own kings. However, for Jesus Christ the son of God, his kingdom does not have a boundary—in the land of the whites, he is king; in the land of the blacks, he is king.
When the wise men went to Herod they said, “Where is he who has been born the king of the Jews?” They made a mistake because he is not just king of the Jews but king of the whole universe. So, I like the Methodist hymn that says, “Jesus shall reign wherever the sun doth its successive journeys run.”
The Bible says his government shall be upon his shoulders. So wherever he goes he puts his throne there, crosses his legs, and rules.
ii. His kingdom or kingship is forever
His kingdom or kingship is forever. He does not have tenure of office. He doesn’t go into office for four years after which we vote to decide whether he should continue or another should come. He doesn’t have to campaign for votes or convince people that when he comes he will do this or that. For Jesus, there is no end to his kingdom; there is no end; there is no tenure of office.
So I like what the angel told Mary. He said, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the household of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1.32-33 ESV)
C. His kingdom is not from man
Another important thing to understand is that his kingdom is not from man. If it were from man, man could have decided to change him. His kingdom is from his father who will give him the throne of David. So, it is not from man for man to bluff him or talk to him anyhow.
The Bible says God says he will give him the throne of his father David. Thus, it is a kingdom given to him by God and he will reign forever and ever.
D. It takes revelation to see his kingdom
It takes revelation to see his kingdom. A critical examination of scriptures shows that it is by revelation we see his kingship. For the wise men, Jesus was revealed to them by the star. For the shepherds in the wilderness, Jesus was revealed to them by the angels. But in our generation and time, the king Jesus is revealed in our hearts through the Holy Ghost. I pray in Jesus’ name that the eyes of your understanding be enlightened if you have not yet come to see him as your king for it takes revelation to know him and to know him as king.
When you get to know him as king, your immediate reaction is worship
When you get to know Jesus as king, your immediate attitude towards him is worship. Anyone who gets to know Jesus as king bows before him in worship. When you get to know him, there is nothing else to do but to honor is royalty. If we have really got to know him, nobody will force us to worship him for when you get before a king, you have no option but to bow before him. That is why when the wise men saw his star they travelled all the way from where they were to Jerusalem, looking for that king to bow to and worship.
Matthew 2.11 says, “And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.”
I pray that we shall see him as king. When he is revealed to us a king, we shall fall on our face prostrate and worship him. When you see him as king, your immediate attitude is that of worship.
Three types of worshippers
When you read Matthew 2.1-12 you will see three types of worshippers.
First type: The Herod type of worshippers—those who pretend to worship but don’t
The first type of worshippers as seen in Matthew 2 is the type who pretend to worship the king but don’t. I call them the Herod type of worshippers. They pretend to worship and everybody sees them but the know they are not worshipping.
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” (Matthew 2.7-8 ESV)
There are people who are pretending to worship but have a wrong motive. They pretend to worship but in reality do not. Herod said he also wanted to worship the king but he meant death. He wanted to go and kill the baby because he did not want competition. There are so many of us in the church who are pretending to worship but are not. The Bible says the people worship me with their lips but their hearts are far away. (Isaiah 29.13)
When you see him as king, your worship won’t be that of pretense but sincerity.
The king demands our worship but not a hypocritical one. He demands worship from the heart. Many of us worship to impress people. The fact is that the main characteristic if this type of worshipper is that their motive is wrong. Their motive is not to please the Lord or serve the king but to please other people. But I came to announce to you that as we worship the king, may you not fall into this category. Why are you dancing? Why are you doing what you are doing? Is it to please and honor men? Why are you singing, preaching, praying, and doing all you are doing? Our worship should not be one of pretense like that of Herod but come from the heart.
Second type: The priest and scribe type of worshippers—those who know much but do little
The second category of worshippers is the priest and scribe type of worshippers. These are worshippers who know everything about the king but won’t worship him. People may even inquire from them and they will teach and direct them but they themselves won’t worship.
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: (Matthew 2.3-5 ESV)
When Herod asked the scribes and chief priest where the Christ was to be born, it did not take them hours or days. They told him immediately and even quoted Micah from the Old Testament saying it is written, “’And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.” (Matthew 2.6 ESV)
They knew everything about the king but would not go and worship him. There are some of us who know a lot about the king: we can talk about the king and can even pray to the king and do all kinds of things but not worship him.
It is not enough to know about the king or sing about him but to become one of those who give him worship and serve him all the days of your life. The important thing is for you to know the king and worship him all the days of your life.
In the church there are people who know everything. They know the history of the church and even know when Pastor McKeown came to Ghana and what dress he was wearing when he came. They know about PIWC from ATTC to Atomic, how the foundation of this building was laid and how the structure was erected. There are people who will criticize everything yet they themselves will not do anything. They know everything but won’t be a part of it. God doesn’t want you to be in that category. He wants you to be involved. He wants you to go to Bethlehem and bow before the Christ. You know everything but one thing you haven’t done is to worship the king. They knew he was to be born in Bethlehem but wouldn’t go there and worship. I pray that you will go to Bethlehem to bow before the king
Third type: The sincere worshippers
The third category is the sincere worshippers. They worship the king from a sincere heart. They come to worship him and it is not a worship of pretense but with sincerity of heart.
And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. (Matthew 2.11 ESV)
There are three characteristics of sincere worshippers.
i. They worship the king irrespective of the cost
Yesterday Prof. Larbi told us about the distance the wise men had to travel to worship the king. It was a distance of about 800 miles. Sincere worshippers would want to worship the king irrespective of the cost. I don’t know how many days it took them but they went. What matters to sincere worshippers is worshipping the king.
People are giving so many reasons not to worship the king. Everyday there is one excuse or the other preventing you from worshipping him but these people didn’t count the cost. They could have said it was too far.
At a point, they even risked their lives because they went to Herod’s palace to ask where another king had been born. If you went to a king’s palace to ask where another king was, you could be calling for your death,. Herod could have killed them.
Sincere worshippers are ready to worship even at the cost of their lives. How many times haven’t we compromised our positions as children of God because we wanted to please others? You want to sleep with your boss just to protect your job. However, sincere worshipers worship even it means their death. May you become a sincere worshipper who will worship irrespective of the cost.
We have too many excuses. The reasons may be legitimate but the fact that you have a reason does not mean what you are dong is right. Elder Stephen Owusu made a point about convenient Christianity that set me thinking. Many of us have become convenient worshippers. We will only appear before him when it is convenient for us but if he had decided to come and save you when it was convenient, that time would have never come.
The reasons and excuses are becoming too many. Sincere worshippers worship even when there is a cost. They don’t count the cost. All they are interested in is one thing: to go before the king and worship him. King Herod could have ordered for their death because he was a king yet they came to inquire of another king when he as the sitting king was still alive.
How may times haven’t we disappointed him for one reason or another at a time when he was counting on us and expecting us to stand. How many times have we disappointed him because we were protecting our own interests? Sincere worshippers worship even at the cost of their lives.
ii. Sincere worshippers worship the king with their substance
Then, opening their treasures, they offered gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2.11 ESV)
Sincere worshippers don’t only worship with their lips but with what they have. Their thinking is that if the king owns them then he owns what they have. They think, “Whatever I have, whatever I am, and whatever I will ever be depends on him.” So, when worshipping the king with their substance, they don’t mind because they know him.
The Bible says silver and gold are God’s. Thus, the king has his own things but it is just an honor for the sincere worshippers to go to the king and present their gifts to him.
I lived in the Ashanti Region for a while and, observing the Asante Kingdom and the way people treat their kings and the kind of homage and honor they give to them, I said Christians should be up and doing because these are men and women but our king is God.
The kingdom of Christ is forever. We don’t have Jesus Christ the first, Jesus Christ the second, or Jesus Christ the third. We have one Jesus Christ. But when you go to my hometown, there is Nana XYZ the first and Nana XYZ the second. XYZ the second means the first is gone and soon the second will also go yet look at how they pay homage to them, bring royalties to them, and so on. We are serving the king of kings and the lord of lords and you are thinking you own your money or gold? If the king has me, he has whatever I have.
What do I have that the king did not give to me? Whatever I have is for the king and I am only a steward. Who am I but for the king? It is the king’s glory that has spread and touched me, giving me a little honor. If the king has changed my life and brought me thus far then everything I am and have today and tomorrow and everything that will potentially come to me is for the king. Hence, when sincere worshippers are worshipping with their substance they don’t mind. That is why someone can give his car—because he knows that whatever has belongs to him.
When the wise men went to the king, they gave him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Whatever belongs to you, release it to the king and he will be happy with you
iii. Sincere worshippers walk in obedience to God
Finally, sincere worshipers walk in obedience to God
And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. (Matthew 2.12 ESV)
Sincere worshippers walk in obedience to the Lord. After they had found and worshipped the king, an angel told them not to go back. They didn’t give excuses or challenge the angel but took another route and went to their own country. True worshippers are obedient to what the king says.
I remember I was watching TV the other during the funeral of the mother of the Asantehene. They interviewed another king who said “What my lord has said is what I will do. I don’t know anything. If my lord says it then I will do it.” I was wondering who the “lord” was but later found out it was in reference to the Asantehene. Then I said “Wow! Total obedience.” And this is a man. If you are a sincere worshipper you obey everything the king says. Is the king talking to me? They will obey even if it is difficult or appears “foolish.” He has trust and confidence in the king.
I pray that, henceforth, we shall not worship with our lips only but lead worship lifestyles, that our lifestyles will bring him glory and honor. In that case worship will not be limited to this auditorium but wherever we are, we shall lead lives of worship. Worship is not an event but a lifestyle.
I pray that we shall begin to lead lives of worship before our king so that wherever we find ourselves we won’t be the Herod type of worshipers who will pretend to worship but won’t; that we won’t be like the scribes or chief priest types who know everything and criticize everything and can talk about everything but won’t worship; but we shall be like the wise men who, even at the cost of their lives, would want to worship and worship with their substance. I want us to be those will walk in obedience because our king has spoken.
Exodus 28.9-10, Exodus 28.12, Isaiah 32.1, Jeremiah 23.22, Isaiah 29.13