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Monday, January 11, 2016

01102016 Epiphany Sunday (Moved) Emmanuel Lutheran Church Goodland KS

January 10, 2016
The Wisemen Found The Purpose


There is a story that Michele and I have in our story book collection which I nearly read last Sunday as the sermon.  It is the story of Artaban, originally written by Henry Van Dyke.  It relates the story of "The Other Wise Man".  Unlike the three best known, Balthazar, Caspar and Melchior, whom we sang about as our opening hymn, there are stories of a fourth wiseman, named Artaban, who was waylaid.  Artaban's lack of inclusion was not for lack of trying, but simply as a result of the tenderness of his heart.  Artaban wanted to give a treasure that came from his selling all of his possessions including his household.  The treasure Artaban wanted to present to the new born King was three jewels, but because of circumstances beyond his control, he was delayed, not once, nor twice, but three times.  Each time he encountered a need.  In each case, because of the compassion of his heart, Artaban, sacrificed his time and the jewels he was to give the king in order to protect the innocent and give comfort to those in need, whether the hungry, the sick or those in prison.

After searching for thirty three years having not found the King, Artaban embarked with his final jewel upon one last journey to Jerusalem to find the greatest treasure on earth, the King.  But alas at the gates, he encountered a young girl who was being dragged to be sold into slavery and in a deed of love and sacrifice, gave the final jewel, a pearl to settle her debt.  Suddenly the sky darkened and the ground shook.  Artaban fell to the ground and a large piece of tile roof that had shaken loose tragically fell upon Artaban.

You see Artaban had been on a journey to find the King of Kings and Lord of Lords foretold in sacred story.  What his friends, the Three Wise Men found was not a treasure that man could cash in at a bank.  The Three Wise Men found The Purpose in the Manger.

The Purpose the Three Wise Men found in the manger was God becoming Man.  God taking on Human flesh and humbling Himself in a way that we who gather here today live daily.  When Jesus entered into the world, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He did not enter a castle or a Kingdom, but in true humility was born in a lowly stable in Bethlehem.  Jesus wasn't heralded by man, but by the angels.  Last week we sang, "Angels we have heard on high!"  This triumphant song was of the birth of the Savior of the World.  The angels personally understood what the Wise Men would find and what we celebrate today, the entrance of the Three Wise Men, Three Earthly Kings coming on bended knee and offering their gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.  Each gift given for a particular part and aspect of the next 33 years of Jesus Journey from the manger to the Cross.

But the question remains, what do you find in the manger?  Is this just a child, looked down upon like our children who make to much noise, friends or companions who may have a differing view than ours, or do you embrace the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in the manger?  Our individual and collective answer doesn't just show our individual or collective beliefs, but rests simply on the Purpose we can find in the manger.  For the purpose we find isn't only the soft cooing of a child as pleasant and cute as that may be, but the purpose that the Child laid in the manger not only was of God's great love for all of mankind, including you and me, but the purpose of God the Son, becoming Man for you and for me. God loved and loves us so much that His Son, Jesus Christ came to fulfill the purpose of being the Savior of the World.

Jesus Christ, the Child in the manger comes with great purpose to offer us life and salvation and His earthly journey begins with His entrance in the manger.  For when the Wise Men on bended knee offer the Gold for the journey ahead, the Frankincense since Jesus is the High Priest and the Myrrh as a prophecy of His death on Calvary, Jesus path and purpose is clearly set out.  Jesus comes to die in order that we might live.

What are we to do?  Let's return to Artaban.  As he lay their on the ground, crushed by the roof tile, having not gotten to see the King of Kings and Lord of Lords during his 33 year journey, not only was his body crushed beyond repair even for modern medicine, but his very spirit was crushed.  In the darkness that surrounded him, Artaban heard a voice.  "Artaban, you have been a good and faithful servant.  I was hungry and you fed me.  I was naked and you brought me clothes.  I was in prison and you visited me.  Come now to the rest I have prepared for you."  Thinking he was imagining, Artaban responded, "Not so, Lord, when did I do all these things for You?"

The voice simply responded, "Whenever you helped one of my people in need you helped Me."  Finally, the true peace of understanding fell upon Artaban's soul.  He truly understood and his journey on earth was complete.  His treasures were accepted.  He had found the King.

Today we have found the King of Kings and Lord of Lord's in the manger as well.  Today we find His purpose was to come and save us out of His great love for us.  You see the treasure that God finds today from the manger is we who gather here today.  We are God's greatest treasure and in Him we find the King of King and Lord of Lords.  May we believe we are His greatest treasure and understand it is His love for each and every one of us that points to His purpose here on earth when God became Man to save us.  AMEN.

Rev. Darian L. Hybl

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