Matthew 2

Matthew 2

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The Visit of the Wise Men

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

  “‘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 shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 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.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 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. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

The Flight to Egypt

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Herod Kills the Children

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

  “A voice was heard in Ramah,
    weeping and loud lamentation,
  Rachel weeping for her children;
    she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

The Return to Nazareth

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.


Matthew 2 Commentary

by Hank Workman

Every Christmas Nativity scenes are pulled out and set for the season.  Each character represents one found in Scripture who was there.  From the shepherds to the angel to the oxen and lambs to the Magi to the Holy parents Mary and Joseph with the central character being Jesus in a manger.  We put them on display to represent the real reason behind Christmas itself.

But gazing at the nativity we miss one important aspect.  We simply fail to remember the story and journey of each.  For the shepherds, these men and boys who had nothing beyond a 6th-grade education were the first to have the announcement of Jesus’ birth.  The astounding aspect of this is God chose to reveal His Son to the marginalized of society, the unimportant, for Jesus came for all people. 

The most mysterious players are the Magi.  There is not much known of them and a lot of speculation as to where they came from.  Tradition, however, holds they traveled from Persia and could have been Chaldeans.  What’s even more interesting is during Daniel’s time of captivity where God elevated him toward a high status within the government, he was promoted as chief wise man – Magi.  In the last portion of his book, he prophesied greatly of the Messiah coming and even has prophecies there yet to be fulfilled with Jesus Returns.

The Persians in all their atrocities and barbaric ways throughout the Old Testament, however, had learned something profound through Daniel.  There was one God.  Their respect for Daniel set the stage for their own hearts to be open.  So, if this theory of the Wise Men coming from Persia, the puzzle pieces click together as for centuries they had been studying the prophecies of the chief Wise Man Daniel.  These prophecies created a longing for the Messiah and they were determined to figure it out.  The Holy Spirit was all over these men, working in their hearts and leading them forward to ultimately finding Jesus and worshiping Him.

Here’s the deal.  We can observe others and look upon their lives and draw our own conclusions.  Much like the figurines we pull out at Christmas of the Nativity we don’t know their story.  We simply observe and move on.  But the reality is we each have a story.  We each may look outwardly as someone who doesn’t fit another’s standards or look like and act like us but just like us they have been on a trek that has brought them to the place we are so far. 

For the Magi, their life took a physical journey that lasted some speculate a few years.  They weren’t just men who were interested enough in reading about the prophecies and observing the star, they chose to journey toward discovery.  They chose not to settle but go forward in their search.  Remarkably, Jesus the Messiah even as a little baby was their Guide.

Matthew 2 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Remarkably, the calendar we all depend on was originally created around Jesus’ birth. Medieval creators tried to set Jesus’s birth at A.D. 1 in order to properly date events, however, they were slightly off. We know this because the death of Herod is recorded by Josephus in 4 B.C. Matthew and Luke both write in their Gospels that Herod was alive when Jesus was born, therefore, it couldn’t have been A.D. 1. Most agree it was either 4 or 5 B.C., with 5 being most consistent with Luke’s account of the Gospel.

Another interesting note surrounding Jesus’ birth is that there were several miraculous constellation experiences around this time. Many have speculated that the star (Mat 2:9) was one of these events. Halley’s comet appeared around 11 B.C. and another comet was uncovered in 5 B.C. Also in 7 B.C. was an extremely rare (once every 794 years) aligning of Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn within the constellation Pisces. All of this is interesting to explore, but the main truth is the prophecy that was fulfilled by this guiding star.

“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth.

Numbers 24:17 NASB 

I have always enjoyed John Ortberg’s commentary on Matthew 2. Here are some excerpts from his book, “Who Is This Man?”

This is not the kind of story you would write songs about. The night Jesus is born, all is not calm, all is not bright. That little baby does not “sleep in heavenly peace.” Herod sends soldiers to Bethlehem into the homes of peasant families who are powerless to stop them. They break in, and when they find an infant boy, they take out a sword and plunge it into that baby’s body. Then they leave.

Matthew underlined the pain of the gap between peasant and king: “Rachel weeping for her children.” The rabbis said that centuries earlier, the Jewish matriarch Rachel had been buried in Bethlehem near the major road leading out of Israel so that she could weep for the helpless exiles leaving their home.

Herod, who built cities and ruled armies, was called Herod the Great. No one called Jesus “the Great.” Jesus is repeatedly given a different title by Matthew: “‘Go and search carefully for the child’ … the place where the child was … they saw the child with his mother … ‘take the child …The title “child,” especially in that day, would be a vivid contrast with “king” or “great.” In the ancient, status-ordered world, children were at the bottom of the ladder.

Herod the Great made things happen. Things happened to the child Jesus. There is a reversal going on in this story. The next season of Jesus’ life is introduced with the phrase “After Herod died….” In fact, three times in chapter 2 alone, Matthew mentions the fact that Herod is dead. Matthew wants the reader to know: Herod the Great, with all his wealth, glory, power, and crown, is now Herod the Dead. Jesus said it wasn’t the child’s job to become like Herod. It was Herod’s job to become like the child. Greatness comes to people who die to appearing great.

-John Ortberg, Who Is This Man?

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