12/29/02, C1B

“Of One Blood All Nations”
Matthew 2: 1-12

inally, the Wise Men from the East become players in the Nativity. They arrived late because they had to come from so far away. They came to Jesus as representatives of a whole world that would eventually be invited.

These wealthy, well educated princes, and their caravan of people and animals had to come around the desert, following the ancient road of the fertile northern crescent from Babylon, now named Baghdad, the possible site of the Garden of Eden, to Jerusalem and then to Bethlehem. By the time they had arrived Joseph, Mary and the Baby Jesus had found more permanent quarters in a house. When they saw the Savior of the World, "They bowed down and worshiped him." (Matt. 2: 11, NIV) Their act of worship was a foretaste of the Old Testament prophecy pointing to this event, and beyond, that in the culmination of time, everyone will realize that Jesus is the Son of God.
(Isaiah 45:23)

Indeed, the scope of Scripture points to an eventual universal recognition of Christ as Messiah of all people everywhere. Not everyone will accept Him as Lord, but everybody will ultimately realize who this Baby was, and is. Our commission from Christ is to, "Go and make disciples of all nations" ( Matt28:19) Jesus did not say that everyone would accept Him, but our mission is to allow everyone to have an opportunity.

It is noteworthy that the two most volatile cities in the worldwide media at the end of 2002 are Jerusalem and Baghdad. Does anyone doubt that if war breaks out these two heavily populated capitols will be targets for devastation? Do these ancient cities still not represent the fact that we have not yet reached the whole world with the Good News of the Prince of Peace?

On this first Sunday after Christmas Day let us remind ourselves that the Hope of the world is Jesus! Our hope in Him is not only spiritual and other worldly, but it is the present and real hope of unifying the world brotherhood of persons divided by race, ethnicity and geography. Ours is also a hope that all humanity might soon share in the great strides made in information and technology since the arrival of the Wise Men at Bethlehem. And finally, we long for and hope that the whole world might one day know the salvation that the Baby Jesus came to bring.

Atlanta has been at the forefront of strides toward Christian Brotherhood. As other southern cities were being set on fire, forty years ago, Mayor Ivan Allen's words brought calm as he said, "Atlanta is a city too busy to hate!" As many of us remember first hand, not everyone in Atlanta agreed, but the idea caught fire instead of our buildings and the citizenry became caught up in the notion. Soon, world wide companies heard about our spirit of unity amid diversity, and they began to move their headquarters and employees here. Today, we are over four-million strong and have made enormous strides toward the Christian ideals of: Welcoming the stranger, loving our neighbors, and the recognition that every human soul represents a creature for whom Christ gave His life. We must never forget that these concepts found momentum mainly from the pulpits of America, and especially in the South. Not everyone practices what has been preached, but we feel a continual movement toward Christian Brotherhood.

The Wise Men, Magi, were of an often hated foreign, racial group. Indeed, these men were of Arabian, some say Persian, descent and had once held the Hebrews in slavery. Their becoming players in the drama of the Nativity is a moving representation of the hope of eventual mutual respect among the array of folks living on this globe.

And, the Wise Men were wise. They were scholars of the then highest form of science. Their field of specialty was astronomy, which was then mostly based on superstition and random astrological charts; however, they were the professors of the time period into which Jesus broke. Information and technology has increased by such strides in my lifetime that today's scientists look back upon the 1950's as "The Stone Age." But who can doubt that fifty years from now our technology will be seen as prehistoric. You see, the reason for the Wise Men is that they represent the great value of knowledge and education; no matter at what level the information is being learned.

There were few college graduates in the churches my Dad served in the small towns of North Carolina; yet, there were many wise people. They had some formal public education; but they never missed a Sunday School lesson. Any kind of education broadens one's mind and puts form to the random nature of life apart from concentrated thinking. Indeed, none of us are ever truly educated without knowing the Truths of God's Word. Wisdom is a state of reality that is beyond familiarity with information.

Lastly, these Three Kings from the East remind us of the fact that the Christian World has not yet taken the Good News of potential salvation to everybody everywhere, as Jesus commissioned us to do. Jesus said: "Go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28: 19) Jesus' Great Commission is the most inclusive statement of history in that everyone is considered worthy of being changed from a "Creature of God," into a "Son of God." Some have called this life changing state the next developmental level beyond mere humanity. Yet, we are at our best still, "sinners saved by Grace."

Education, food, housing, healthcare have come to countries where the proclaimed word has led the way. Once hearts are right with God then minds can be set straight too. Then, we can begin to live up to our potential. God has entrusted the journey around the desert places of today's world to us. Will we carry His story to the far corners of the planet? Will we share the wisdom of our age with those still living in darkness?

Our calling is to find some gold, frankincense and myrrh so that we might better communicate what we know to the whole world.

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

12/29/02, C1B