What Are You Interested In?
13 December 2016

Matthew 2:1-12

Steve Jobs was the founder of the Apple computer company. He was a person who made a lot of money in a short period of time. The stock value of Apple company became much higher than Microsoft in 10 years after he had founded his company. Many people call him the person of the century. Even though he did many great works, he died of pancreatic cancer at age 56. When he died, he said these words. "I have become the number one successful business man. People say that I am a model of success. But now I am very sick and lying on the bed. Through my sickness, I realized that after people accumulate enough wealth for themselves, they don't need to pursue any other materialistic things. I have pursued materialistic things my whole life but now I know that I'm dying and I will leave this world empty handed.

Most people love money. They are greatly interested in gaining much wealth and fame. But the scripture says that we Christians need to be interested in the spiritual things in heaven and pursue a life in heaven until the moment we die.

In today's scripture, we find two different groups of people. One is Herod and the people of Jerusalem. The other one is the three wisemen. When these three wisemen arrived at Jerusalem. they asked the people "Where is the Child who has been born to be King of the Jews? When they heard it, what was their reaction? The scripture says that they didn't rejoice but they were disturbed. When Herod heard it, he was in agony.

In contrast to the people of Jerusalem and Herod, the scripture says that the three wisemen were overjoyed when they saw the star in the sky.

Here is a question I ask of you. Why was Herod not joyful when he heard the words of the three wisemen? It was because his interest was different from the wisemen's interest. Herod was interested in materialistic blessings like wealth and fame but the three wisemen were interested in worshipping God.

Herod didn't believe in God. He was not a Jew. He was a descendant of the Edom tribe that the Israelites didn't like. How could he become a king of Israel? He was very crafty. He captured the heart of the Roman emperor with flattering words and bribes. The Roman emperor appointed him as a tetrarch to rule Israel. As the ruler of Israel, he accumulated much wealth. Even though he gained all those things, he lived a life filled with many worries and anxiety everyday. He was always worried with the idea that what if people would betray or kill him to take his position. He didn't trust people and it caused him to kill his mother in law, his wife and his two sons. When he heard that the King was born from the three wisemen, he was worried and killed all the babies in Jerusalem who were under two years old.

At that time, he was 70 years old. Nowadays, many people live a life over 100 years. But about 2,000 years ago, age 70 was very close to death. Herod thought that he would be able to live a long life as a king. Since he was only interested in this thing, he did all evil things. Later he became crazy. He died a couple of months after he had killed all the babies in Bethlehem.

My beloved brothers and sisters, we must love God much more than earthly things. The scripture says that we must love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. The three wise men loved God. They came to Jerusalem from the far east to worship the baby Jesus. They traveled about 600 miles. It took them about one month to arrive at Jerusalem because they had to travel only during the night to follow the star.

About one month ago, we saw the super moon. We saw it for a couple of nights. Many people took pictures of it. About 2,000 years ago, the three wisemen saw a big star as well. When they saw it, they knew that it was a sign of the birth of the Messiah.

They believed in God. Daniel 2:18 talks about the wisemen in the east. It says "He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon." Through this verse, we know that there were some wise men in Babylon who believed in God and worshipped him. It was an act that was against the law of the country. Daniel was worried about them so he prayed for them not to be killed. Babylon was located in the east part of the current land of Iraq. Most theologians say that the three wisemen who came to Jerusalem to see the baby Jesus were the descendants of the wisemen in Babylon. The three wisemen had big faith in God.

Many Christians around the world now risk their lives to keep their faith in God under persecution. There is no freedom of religion in North Korea. But we know that there are many Christians who keep their faith in God in the worst situation. Some Christians are prison and they are on the verge of starvation. But they never give up on their faith in God and choose to die in prison. We need to pray for them and help them.

The three wisemen were very rich. But they didn't pursue materialistic blessings. They were interested in worshipping God. They knew that loving God and worshipping God was the most important thing. When they came to see the baby Jesus, they brought three precious gifts. If they loved materialistic things much more than God, they would have not brought those precious gifts to the baby Jesus.

When Jesus was in Simon's house, a woman came into the house. She had a jar that contained expensive perfume. She suddenly poured it on Jesus' head. Jesus had cast out demons from her in the past. She was very thankful for that so she expressed her thankful heart to Jesus with that perfume. Judas was there. He scolded her by saying, "It would be much better for her to use the perfume for the poor." But the scripture says that Judas loved money so he said those words.

One day, a little girl who didn't know the value of the money came into a jewelry store. She looked at some jewels under the glasses. She decided to buy a beautiful necklace. The owner of the store asked her with a big smile, "Who would you want to buy if for?" She answered, "I will give it to my older sister. She is getting married a couple of days later. Our mother passed away when we were young. My sister raised me and she is like a mother for me. I want to give it to her as a gift of her wedding."

The man asked "Do you have money for this necklace?". She gave her little piggy bank to him and said "This is all I have." When he received that piggy bank from her, he took the price tag off and said, "You have brought enough money for this necklace." He gave the necklace to her.

She came back home and gave the necklace to her sister. She thought that her sister would be happy with that necklace. But when her sister saw it, she knew that it was a very expensive necklace. She thought that her sister stole it from someone. She was upset and severely scolded her sister. On the following day, she went to the jewelry store and asked the owner of the store, "Sir, my sister said that she had bought this necklace at this store. Is it true?" The man answered, "Yes, she bought it here yesterday." She asked "My sister didn't have much money for this necklace, how could she pay for it?" He answered, "I received enough money from her because she gave me all she had."

We have received God's grace. We live our lives with his grace. What should we do when we think about the grace that we received from God? We should give him our offerings. God gladly accepts our offerings. Above all, we should give our hearts to him. We should love him with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. What are you now interested in? We should be interested in worshipping God. Loving God and worshipping him is the most important thing in our lives. I bless you in the name of Jesus so that your lives will be filled with God's grace and blessings as you love God and give all your heart to him.

Rev. Dr. David Choi
Wahiawa UMC


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