St. Matthew.jpg

The Truth is not in us

Matthew 2:1-12

The Rev. Jon Roberts

24 December

2019

Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, 2 “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.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet:

6 ‘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 govern my people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; 8 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.” 9 When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; 11 and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

The Wise Men visit King Herod Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, c. 435AD

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.[1]

We have almost crossed over from the Advent of preparation into Christmas of birth. From the setting of the sun on our sin, the light of a silent night offers forgiveness. Forgiveness to those who confess it. But, oh how sin can still get in the way.

One evening, a husband and wife were preparing for dinner, when he noticed a book on the kitchen table. It was titled, “What 20 million American Women want.” He took it and sat down, thumbing through the pages. His wife was a little annoyed. “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?” He calmly replied, “I just wanted to see if they spelled my name right.”

On this night of our Savior’s birth we follow the story of Jesus from the text of St. Matthew and in it, there is obvious deception that takes place.[2] Out of the book, we must learn from this, as God is calling us around the manger, not to see our name, but his. King Herod called three wise men around, to find where the star was pointing so that he may go and make sure his name was the name above all else. He let his sin deceive, and the truth was not in him.

King Herod is portrayed in a beautiful mosaic on the wall of St. Maria Maggiore in Rome where you can tell from their posture, the wise men were doubtful of Herod’s agenda. The artist emphasizes the royal deception by giving a light blue Aureole (nimbus/halo equivalent) above his head; a sign of his claim to be a demi-god himself. Just to make it abundantly clear, in capital letters, properly spell his name, “HERODES.”

Are we the wise men, truly seeking the truth of the Messiah or are we the Herod, who seeks only themselves? That is the true gift we bring. We bring our repentance and confess our sins to the one who is pure, faithful and just; who will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This is who we find in the manger. It is God; God with us; God for us, but we must surrender and no longer live by deception. If we do, we will never find the wisdom of the star that leads us, which is the Holy Spirit. We will never find the manger that bears new life in us, which is the Savior, Jesus Christ. We will never find the truth of God’s love for the world, if we do not behold the decision of a husband to let go his ego for the good of his wife, or the ego of a king to let go his ego for the good of a nation. It is what more than 20 million and counting should want every year, especially now when Jesus is born. He is born into our deception, and he was sent to set us free and present the truth, so that it may live within us.

On this eve of the birth of the Son of God, will you be wise, will you confess and present the gift of your ‘self’; it is as valuable as gold, frankincense and myrrh. When we truly see this child, born in a manger as the means for us to find new birth in us, then the truth is in us.

[1] 1 John 1:8
[2] Matthew 2:1-12

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