I Shall Give Him My Substance

Title: I Shall Give Him My Substance

Bible Book: Matthew

Author: David E. Owen

Subject: Giving; Christ, Birth of; Stewardship



Today is the final sermon in our Christmas series on the thought and theme: “What Gift Shall I Give This King?” We began by considering Zacharias and Elizabeth who could well have said, “We Shall Give This King Our Son.” Then, we dealt with the message of the angel Gabriel in Luke chapter 1. And Gabriel could well have said, “I Shall Give This King My Service.” Last Sunday, we looked again at Gabriel’s message to Mary in Luke 1. But we focused on this account with Mary in mind. And Mary could well have said, “I Shall Give This King My Self.” This past Wednesday, we went to Matthew 1, where we were introduced to Joseph, the man to whom Mary was espoused. And in Joseph’s case, he had to say, “I Shall Give This King My Situation.” For those who use the Sunday School literature, the lesson for this morning gives the wonderful details of the shepherds and the angels in Luke chapter 2.

Chronologically, nearly all of the events detailed in Matthew 2 falls between Luke 2:38 and Luke 2:39. And in all likelihood, the events of Matthew 2 took place when Jesus was as old as two. After the wise men left in Matthew 2:12, the Bible says…(Matthew 2:16) Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

According to this statement, the journey of the wise men may have begun prior to the birth of Jesus, and they may not have arrived until Jesus was as old as two. Consider also…(Matthew 2:11) And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

It was definitely some time after the birth because when they came, the wise men came “into the house.” This was not the specific location of his birth in Luke 2. As well, the phrase “young child” in verse 11 is the Greek word (3813) paidion, which some have suggested means a small toddler.

There is so much that the magi bring to this “born king.” They brought Him their worship. They brought Him their wealth in the form of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

I read about one child who was in the church Christmas program, and he was wearing a bathrobe and a paper crown, playing the part of a wise man. And he knelt down on the stage with the other two and loudly announced, “We are the three wise men, and we are bringing gifts of gold, common sense, and fur.”

Before they left for their long journey, each of these men asked themselves, “What Gift Shall I Give This King?” And their answer was, “We Shall Give Him Our Substance.”

I. We See The Wise Men And The Details Of Their Journey

We are told that these were “wise men” or “magi.” The word “wise” in verse 1 is the Greek term magos, meaning an Oriental scientist or magician. The plural “Magi” is often used to refer to these men who came seeking Jesus. We further learn that they had come from the east (Matthew 2:1), and the designation “wise men” is used more frequently in the scripture to refer to the Babylonian or Persian magicians, astrologers, and sorcerers in the book of Daniel, than to refer to any other group. Babylon would have been one of the closest pockets of civilization east of Jerusalem in that day.

Given these facts, there would seem to be little doubt that these “wise men” were natives of Babylon or perhaps Persia. If this was the case, theirs would have been a journey of between 500 and 800 miles.

A. Notice The Goal Of Their Journey

(Matthew 2:2) Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

1. Their Goal Involved A Ruler

Where is he that is born King of the Jews?

Albert Barnes wrote…

There was at that time a prevalent expectation that some remarkable personage was about to appear in Judea. The Jews were anxiously looking for the coming of the Messiah. By computing the time mentioned by Daniel (Daniel 9:25-27), they knew that the period was approaching when he would appear. This personage, they supposed would be a temporal prince, and they were expecting that  he would deliver them from Roman bondage. It was natural that this expectation should spread into other countries. Many Jews at that time lived in Egypt, in Rome, and in Greece; many, also, had gone to Eastern countries, and in every place they carried their sacred writings, and diffused the expectation that some remarkable person was about to appear. Suetonius, a Roman historian, speaking of this rumor says: “An ancient and settled persuasion prevailed throughout the East that the Fates had decreed someone to proceed from Judea who should attain universal empire.”  Tacitus, another Roman historian, says: “Many were persuaded that it was contained in the ancient books of their priests, that at that very time the East should prevail and that someone should proceed from Judea and possess the dominion.” … The fact that such a person was expected is clearly attested. Under this expectation these wise men came to do him homage, and inquired anxiously where he was born.

2. Their Goal Involved A Resolution

come to worship him

Barnes says of this phrase…

This does not mean that they had come to pay him religious homage, or to adore him. They regarded him as the King of the Jews, but there is no evidence that they supposed that he was divine. They came to honor him as a Prince, or a king, not as God. The original word implies no more than this. It means to prostrate oneself before another; to fall down and pay homage to another. This was the mode in which homage was paid to earthly kings, and this they wished to pay to the new-born King of the Jews.

But could it be that these eastern philosophers had incorporated into their scope of learning the prophets of Israel such as Isaiah (Isaiah 9:6-7), and Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9) who had written of a coming King?

B. Notice The Guidance Of Their Journey

1. They Were Led By The Scriptures

(Matthew 2:4-6) And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. {5} And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, {6} And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Craig Keener points out that…

Micah 5:2 predicted Bethlehem as the Messiah’s birthplace, because the Messiah was to be a descendant of David, and Bethlehem had been David’s hometown. It was a small town less than a ten-mile walk from Herod’s capital, Jerusalem. The Magi had come to Jerusalem because that was where they expected to find any Judean king – perhaps one of Herod’s sons. What is remarkable is that the scribes would know where the Messiah would be born yet not act on that knowledge either positively (Matthew 2:11) or negatively (2:16). (From the IVP Bible Background Commentary)

See Micah 4:8 also for “Migdal Eder,” the “tower of the flock” prophecy. Note also Micah 5:5 as it mentions “shepherds” and “principal men.”

2. They Were Led By A Star

(Matthew 2:2) Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

Again, Barnes says, “It is called ‘His star,’ because they supposed it to be intended to indicate the time and place of His birth.”

Matthew Henry said, “This star was the token of God’s presence with them; for He is light, and goes before His people as their Guide.”

(Matthew 2:9) When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary says…

The star they had seen in the East now reappeared and led them to a specific house in Bethlehem where they found the Child Jesus. Bethlehem is about five miles south of Jerusalem. “Stars” (i.e., planets) naturally travel from east to west across the heavens, not from north to south. Could it be that “the star” which the Magi saw and which led them to a specific house was the Shekinah glory of God? That same glory had led the children of Israel through the wilderness for 40 years as a pillar of fire and cloud (Exodus 13:21-22). Perhaps this was what they saw in the East, and for want of a better term they called it a “star.” All other efforts to explain this star are inadequate (such as a conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars; a supernova; a comet; etc.).

II. We See The Wise Men And The Display Of Their Joy

(Matthew 2:10) When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

A. Notice The Harmony Of Their Joy
1. There Was A Common Perception In Their Joyfulness

they saw the star

saw – Greek 1492. eido, i'-do; a primary verb meaning to see (literally or figuratively); by implication it means to know. The word is also translated in the New Testament as “be aware, behold, X can (+ not tell), consider, (have) known (-ledge), look (on), perceive, see, be sure, tell, understand, wist, wot.”

“They” all “saw the star.”

2. There Was A Common Participation In Their Joyfulness

One source said…

Christian tradition has elaborated the biblical account; it has set their number as three, perhaps from their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh; it has called them kings, perhaps from Psalms 72:10,11 and Isaiah 49:7,23 considered as prophecies; and it has given them names, Caspar or Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. (http://www.historychannel.com/perl/print_book.pl?ID=120785)

But whether their number was three or eight or more, it is indicated here that “they” all “rejoiced.”

rejoiced – Greek 5463. chairo, khah’ee-ro; a prim. verb; to be “cheer”ful, i.e. calmly happy or well-off; impers. espec. as salutation (on meeting or parting), be well:--farewell, be glad, God speed, greeting, hail, joy (-fully), rejoice.

B. Notice The Heights Of Their Joy

(Matthew 2:10) When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

1. Consider The Meaning Of This Joy That They Had

joy – Greek 5479. chara, khar-ah'; from G5463; cheerfulness, i.e. calm delight:--gladness, X greatly, (X be exceeding) joy (-ful, -fully, -fulness, -ous).

This word “joy” (NT:5479) indicates the following…

As a phenomenon or feeling, “joy” is a culmination of being that raises no problems as such and that strains beyond itself. … “Joy” (?chará?) means “rejoicing,” “joy,” “merriness.” (From the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, abridged edition)

2. Consider The Magnitude Of This Joy That They Had

exceeding – Greek 4970. sphodra, meaning vehemently, i.e. in a high degree, much.

great – Greek 3173. megas, meaning big. Rendered elsewhere in the New Testament as “exceedingly, high, large, loud, mighty.”

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says…

[When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy]. The language is very strong, expressing exuberant transports.

They must have been so glad in their hearts that they lost all their composure and dignity.

III. We See The Wise Men And Their Devotion To Jesus

(Matthew 2:11) And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

A. Notice The Environment Of Their Worship

This Was A Family Environment

house – Greek 3614. oikia, oy-kee'-ah; from G3624; prop. residence (abstr.), but usually (concr.) an abode (lit. or fig.); by implication a family (espec. domestics):--home, house (-hold).

“Bethlehem” means “house of bread,” and when they entered this house, they were coming into the bread-box.

Cf. (John 6:35) And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary notes that they came “into the house”…

Not the stable; because as soon as Bethlehem was emptied of its strangers, they would have no difficulty in finding a dwelling-house.

2. This Was A Focused Environment

they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him

I mentioned earlier that Barnes said, “They came to honor him as a Prince, or a king, not as God. The original word implies no more than this.”

However, as the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says…

Clearly this was no civil homage to a petty Jewish king, whom these star-guided strangers came so far, and inquired so eagerly, and rejoiced with such exceeding joy to pay, but a lofty spiritual homage.

And the focus of the worship was Him, the young child, the Christ child!

B. Notice The Expression Of Their Worship

(Matthew 2:11) And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

1. Observe Their Bowing Position

fell down – Greek 4098. pipto, pip'-to; a redupl. and contr. form of peto, pet'-o (which occurs only as an alt. in cert. tenses); prob. akin to G4072 through the idea of alighting; to fall (lit. or fig.):--fail, fall (down), light on.

The word indicates that each of them found a spot in the small residence where they could worship, which means…

worshipped – Greek 4352. proskuneo, pros-koo-neh'-o; from G4314 and a prob. der. of G2965 (mean. to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand); to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (lit. or fig.) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore):--worship.

Matthew Henry said…

We may well imagine their expectations were raised to find this royal babe, though slighted by the nation, yet honourably attended at home; and what a disappointment it was to them when they found a cottage was his palace, and his own poor mother all the retinue he had! Is this the Saviour of the world? Is this the King of the Jews, nay, and the Prince of the kings of the earth? Yes, this is he, who, though he was rich, yet, for our sakes, became thus poor. However, these wise men were so wise as to see through this veil, and in this despised babe to discern the glory as of the Only-begotten of    the Father; they did not think themselves balked or baffled in their enquiry; but, as having found the King they sought, they presented themselves first, and then their gifts, to him. They presented themselves to him: they fell down, and worshipped him. We do not read that they gave such honour to Herod, though he was in the height of his royal grandeur; but to this babe they gave this honour, not only as to a king (then they would have done the same to Herod), but as to a God.

2. Observe Their Bountiful Presents

One fellow commented on how odd the Christmas carol, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” really is. The stanza says…

“Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king … A Child, a Child shivers in the cold … Let us bring Him silver and gold.”

If He was cold, then perhaps a blanket would have been more useful. But as Matthew Henry pointed out…

“Providence sent this for a seasonable relief to Joseph and Mary in their present poor condition.”

Henry said…

Some think there was a significancy in their gifts; they offered him gold, as a king … frankincense, as God, for they honoured God with the smoke of incense; and myrrh, as a Man that should die, for  myrrh was used in embalming dead bodies.

These gifts are significant, for…

  • Gold was a gift fit for a dominant king
  • Frankincense was a gift suitable for a devoted priest
  • Myrrh was a gift appropriate for a dying prophet

One writer said…

Gold may be taken as representing our substance, our goods, our material wealth. All work, all material, have their worth in gold. This oblation represents the efficiency of that which is external to us, and can be detached from us.

The frankincense is a substance which, once kindled, sends up sweet clouds to the sky. It is the symbol of religious thought directing itself lovingly and longingly towards God. It typifies what is inward. There is a life of contemplation as well as of action.

The last offering completing the text is myrrh. This stands for sorrows; in this we are equal before God. We can offer to Him our pains and repentance.

(M. Dix from The Biblical Illustrator)

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary summarizes the views on these gifts by saying…

“Frankincense” was an aromatic used in sacrificial offerings; “myrrh” was used in perfuming ointments. These, with the gold which they presented, seem to show that the offerers were persons in affluent circumstances. That the gold was presented to the infant King in token of His royalty; the frankincense in token of His divinity, and the myrrh, of his sufferings; or that they were designed to express His divine and human natures; or that the prophetic, priestly, and kingly offices of Christ are to be seen in these gifts; or that they were the offerings of three individuals respectively, each of them kings, the very names of whom tradition has handed down;all these are, at the best, precarious suppositions. But that the feelings of these devout givers are to be seen in the richness of their gifts, and that the gold, at least, would be highly serviceable to the parents of the blessed Babe in their unexpected journey to Egypt and stay there-thus much at least admits of no dispute.


The week of Thanksgiving, on that Monday and Tuesday, I went up to visit with my parents. Before I drove back on Tuesday, I was able to see my little niece and nephew. I’m always aggravating my niece about something, and somehow we started talking about what Jesus was getting for Christmas since it is His birthday. And with the wisdom of a five-year-old, my niece said that “He wants to hear ‘pwaises’ and He wants to hear people ‘pwaise’ Him, because it’s His birthday.”

And that’s so true. He wants our praise, and He wants our worship.

What gift will you give this King named Jesus? After all, Christmas is His birthday.

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