No One Understands Me
The Gift • Sermon • Submitted
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It is hard to believe that we are only about 3 weeks away from Christmas. Which means, today we are starting our new Christmas message series titled The Gift.
And it comes from the story surrounding the visit of the Magi to Jesus in Matthew 2.
And you know, there are a lot of things we know about the birth of Jesus.
But then there are some details that we don’t have and so we have let tradition sort of fill in the blanks for us.
For instance, we know that despite our nativity scenes, the Magi did not greet baby Jesus on the night of his birth. Instead they came some time after he was born and met him in a house. The word used to describe Jesus in this story is a child, not a baby or infant. Most scholars believe Jesus was at least 2 years old when this meeting took place, but we honestly don’t really know.
We also don’t know how many there were. Tradition tells us 3, but honestly the text doesn’t tell us that. It is possible that we have allowed tradition to make it three since that was the number of gifts they brought to Jesus.
Matthew 2:10-11 NLT 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I read this with 21st century eyes, and I understand this from western cultural understanding, with the exception of Gold, these seem like odd gifts to give someone, let alone a child.
I mean, when parker was born we needed bibs. That would have been a good gift. That kid threw up all the time. It was impressive, he could literally shoot it across a room. I know, it is gross, but man you had to see it.
But frankincense and myrrh… I don’t get it.
But that is because I didn’t understand the value of Frankincense until I did a little reading. Now, I am not an essential oils person. And I know that some of you might be and I mean no disrespect but some of what I have heard people tell about the miracle healing properties of oil just don’t add up scientifically.
We went on a road trip once and Katelyn you know gets really bad motion sickness. So bad that it isn’t uncommon for us to have to pull over so she can throw up on the side of the road. Not too long ago on a 2 hour trip we had to stop 3 times for her to throw up. Anyway, because of this, when we go on long trips she will try to find a way to not get sick. She has tried all kinds of remedies from prescription and over the counter medications. She even tried the sea-bands you wear on your wrist.
So finally she decided to try an essential oil that is supposed to prevent nausea and motion sickness. So she buys it, we are driving and I see her dabbing this oil on her ear lobes or behind them I can’t remember. I am here to tell you, that stuff stinks. I am driving down the highway and my eyes are starting to water and my sense of smell is starting to deteriorate.
I mean this stuff is awful. I was in the military, I have been tear gassed multiple times in training and this gives that a run for its money. The only thing I could figure was that you didn’t get nauseous because you are too busy just trying to get your lungs to work. Listen, honestly ladies. If you ever just want to get your husband to leave you alone at night, put some of that oil on and he won’t come near you.
So, as you can tell, my experience with essential oils hasn’t been a positive one, but when it comes to Frankincense there may be an exception. As it turns out Frankincense has a ton of medicinal uses. It possesses antiseptic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, digestive, sedative, uterine, and vulnerary therapeutic properties.
Do you realize what that means… me neither, but that is what I discovered in my research.
When the Magi brought this gift to young Jesus they were bringing an extremely valuable and expensive gift. It was a very practical gift. But it also had spiritual significance.
The Jewish priests also used Frankincense. They would burn it as a fragrant offering to God and as the smoke rose up it was symbolic of the prayers being offered by the priest being lifted up to heaven to be heard by God.
And so most Bible scholars believe that the Frankincense that was given to Jesus was a symbol or foreshadowing his priestly nature, or as the writer of Hebrews calls him, our great High Priest.
You see, the priest in the Old Testament had one primary role that was broken into two functions.
Role: Represented the people to God
Function 1: Priests made sacrifices for the forgiveness of sin
Function 2: Priests prayed prayers on behalf of the people to God
Since the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve first disobeyed God and brought the curse of sin onto creation we see these two opposing forces that exist to this day.
The holiness of God
The sinfulness of man
And you know, sin isn’t a popular topic today, I don’t know that it has ever been, but especially today in a world that tells us to live our truth and do what feels good. Who are you to tell me what is right and what is wrong?
Sin is nothing more than an outdated concept used to scare children into listening to their parents.
But we don’t know how to approach sin today, we want to call it a mistake or a lapse in judgment or we re-write morality entirely and embrace sin as something good.
And honestly I think the reason we do this is because we have lost sight of the holiness of God. We don’t really know what that means, or if we know what it means.
But here is the problem:
If we don’t understand the holiness of God, we will always have a casual approach to sin.
In the Bible when we read that God is Holy, it literally means that God is set apart or completely distinct from his creation,—transcendentally separate—perfect, flawless, pure!
Holiness isn’t one of his ATTRIBUTES—Perfection of all them!
Power, holy—Justice, holy—Mercy, holy—Holiness makes him worthy of our praise!
He is holy and perfect and we are not. We have all sinned against a holy God and the wages of that sin is destruction. Our sin damages everything about who we are, because we were also created to be holy.
This is why God hates sin so much. It isn’t because we somehow offend him or damage his ego. He is holy, he can’t be offended like you and I understand offense. He hates sin because of the damage it has done to a creation that was supposed to be Holy like him.
We feel it—Told lie (Deceived someone we love). Experimenting smoking, drinking—Addicted (slowly robs). Critical—Judgmental—Gossip—Lost temper—Looked again!
So you have these opposing forces, the Holiness of God and the sinfulness of man constantly at odds with each other.
Power in the text
Power in the text
So in the Old Testament, the priest would have to make atonement for the sin of the people, why, because they represented the people to God.
Every year on the day of atonement the High Priest went into the temple, into the holy of holies and he would kill an innocent lamb. An animal that had done nothing wrong and he would sprinkle the blood on to the mercy seat and burn Frankincense representing his prayers for the people.
Then he would take some of the blood that was spilled as payment for sin and he would rub it on to the head of a goat. And he would send this goat known as the scapegoat out of the city away from the people and into the wilderness symbolizing the people’s sin being removed from them.
And when you read this, if we are honest I think we would all admit, this is weird. And honestly unfair. Why did they have to slaughter a little lamb who had done nothing wrong. It was completely innocent. This seems extreme.
But we have to remember that God is Holy and because he is Holy he must also be just. He has to punish sin, his nature requires him to or he would cease to be just and therefore could not remain holy. But because God is Holy, not only is he just, he is also merciful.
And so the sacrifice of that innocent lamb not only satisfies the justice of God but at the same time allows him to extend mercy.
But you know this system was only temporary, it could not satisfy God justice permanently because it had to be done year after year. That is until Jesus. And we see the writer of Hebrew capture this bridge between the old covenant and the new covenant perfectly.
Hebrews 10:10-12 NLT 10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. 11 Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. 12 But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
Jesus became our High Priest, and I believe that when the Magi gave that gift of Frankincense to Jesus, God was foreshadowing that fact. He paid the price for our sin, not just a temporary covering, but a permanent removal once for all time.
Why it matters
Why it matters
Why does this matter? Because too often I think we see Jesus as this distant savior who felt sorry for us and so he made a way for us to be saved.
No, Jesus is more than a distant savior who feels sorry, he is our High Priest who represents us to the Father. Who made the sacrifice and offers prayers on our behalf. Who not only cares about us, but understands our struggles.
Hebrews 4:14-15 NLT 14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.
As our High Priest, Jesus understands all our weaknesses—Relates to trials—Sympathizes w/pain!
He understands what you’re going through at this very moment!
Stress (Garden)—Crazy family—Messiah (lost mind)
Conceived out of wedlock to teenage mom.
Growing up very small town—known as “that boy whose momma doesn’t know who the father is”
Lived in poverty, criticized, ridiculed, bullied.
Tempted over and again by the devil.
Had a close friend die—Grieved loss of family members.
Accused of things he didn’t do—Friends betrayed him.
Worst all—felt abandoned & deserted God—Wasn’t—Felt that way when the Father turned from him!
What you feel—He felt! Where you hurt—He hurt! He understands.
So look what it goes on to say in...
Hebrews 4:16 NLT 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
He is saying listen our High Priest paid the penalty for our sin and removed it from us. He was perfect and innocent, but he does understand our struggles and weaknesses because he faced them all. Because of this, you can come to him not in...
you don’t have to cower or hide
formally, knowing all the right things to say
No, you can come to him boldy, confidently, and with assurance knowing that you are loved deeply by him. He will welcome you with arms wide open.
It is there that we will find mercy and help when we need it most.
In the beginning God created humans to be holy like him. We failed and as a result sin separated us from him. But at just the right time the Magi came to present Jesus with that gift of Frankincense, prophetically foreshadowing his role as our High Priest.
As our High Priest Jesus offered up his life for us and stands ready to be there for us in our time of need.
Stand and let us approach... (Jesus)
Loved one far God—Jesus Savior!
Struggling financially—Jesus My Provider!
Hurting emotionally—Jesus My Comforter!
Struggling physically—Jesus Healer!
Battling anxiety—Jesus My Peace.
As you enter into this Christmas season, don’t let it be like any other. Use it as an opportunity to connect with Jesus in ways you have yet to experience. Christmas can mean so much more to us if we stop, open our eyes and our hearts, and receive the good gifts our high priest wants to give us.