WISEMEN/MAGI1-12

 

(1) Where did they come from?

All we know is they are from the east. Maybe from Babylon several hundreds of miles away. So it would have taken some time for them to make this trip. It would have taken them several months to make this trip. Probably the time the angels appeared to the shepherds, the star appeared to the magi. They would have arrived some time after the birth of Jesus. Maybe as late as two years. So they should not be in the Christmas scene and Jesus was now in a house (vs 11) when they arrived and not the manger. Jesus is also described as a child vs 11 is a different word than that for a newborn infant (Luke 2:12).

 

(2) What did they know?

a. Somehow they knew to come to Jerusalem. They had received some kind of special revelation in the sky from God to alert them to this news. Maybe they were students of astronomy (magi) or possibly magicians in the court of the king like those from Babylon in Daniel 2:22, 48. Possibly this revelation could have also come from contact with Jewish scholars who migrated east or Jews who were still living in Persia at the time. They did not follow the star to Jerusalem. They saw it in the East and came to Jerusalem because of it probably from advice of Jews living there and they said to Herod We saw the star in the East. After they were in Jerusalem the star reappeared to them and they followed it to Bethlehem vs 9-10. Bethlehem is 5 miles south of Jerusalem band stars naturally travel east to west but this start went north to south so what they saw was more then just a mere star. Possibly the Shekinah glory of God the same that led the Israelites while in the wilderness as a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night.

b. Somehow they knew Jesus was King of the Jews vs 2. This knowledge motivated them to travel and give worship to this King. According to tradition three Magi traveled to Bethlehem but the Bible does not say how many were there. They gave gifts worthy of a king, gold, incense and myrrh. It is clear that they recognized this child was indeed a King. Gold is the most precious metal. Frankincense a costly beautiful smelling incense used for only special occasions like royal processions or weddings. Myrrh a perfume valuable for its variety of uses by itself or mixed with other spices or wine for medicinal purposes or preparing bodies for burial. Gold for royalty, Frankincense for deity and myrrh for humanity.

 

(3) How did they respond to Christ?

We do know that they worshipped Him. It seems they became believers because they worshipped the King of Kings having left their own countryís gods behind to do this. Mary is not the mother of God. Mary is the mother of the physical body of Jesus that is all. Mary is not to be worshipped, Jesus is. The magi looked right past her to the child. They presented gifts to him and worshipped him only. They were then warned by God in a dream not to return to Jerusalem so they departed another way. This warning suggests that God was directly communicating with these men and that their role in this whole event was by divine design. It may have even been the same method, a dream from God, that originally started them on this trip.

HEROD 2:3-8, 13, 16-18

 

(1) Where did he come from?

Herod was not the rightful king from the line of David so when he heard that the magi were seeking for the One who had been born king he was disturbed vs 3. In facct he was not even a descendent of Jacob but was descended from Esau and was an Edomite. He reigned over Palestine from 37bc to the time of Christís birth. If someone had rightfully been born king then Herodís job was in jeopardy. So he called the Jewish scholars together and inquired where Christ was to be born vs 4. The answer was simple because Micah had given the exact location in Micah 5:2 as Bethlehem. What is interesting is that these chief priests and scribes showed no special interest in the announcement of the magi that they had seen this star as a sign of the birth of the King.

 

(2) What did he know?

Even Herod had made the connection between the prophecy, the star and the visit of the magi. He knew that the Jews had a messianic hope and believed a Messiah, deliverer, would be born. Herod had asked them when they had first seen the star vs 7. This revealed later on that Herod was already contemplating a plan to get rid of this young king vs 16 because hen immediately put his well laid out plan into action having had sufficient time and information to prepare for this.

 

(3) How did he respond to Christ?

As soon as he learned that the magi had outfoxed him, he ordered all male children two years of age and under to be killed. Herod had killed before. He put to death several of his own children for fear that they may attempt to dethrone him. He put to death some of his wives for fear that they may support a rival son against him on the throne. This slaughter of children fulfilled prophecy in Jer 31:15 which referred to the weeping of the nation as a result of children at the Babylonian captivity (586bc). Now again children are slaughtered and Matthew says that Jeremiahs words also refer to this situation. We would not know that these verses referred to NT fulfillment. Matthew is not trying to interpret these OT prophecies. He is saying these passages have a double meaning. They also apply here. You would have to be inspired to know that.

 

FLIGHT/RETURN 2:13-15, 19-23

(1) Where did he come from?

Joseph is warned by an angel to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt. This is the second of four dreams Joseph has (1:20, 2:13, 19, 22). Under cover of darkness, Joseph immediately obeyed in danger and urgency. Why Egypt? So the prophets words would be fulfilled Out of Egypt I called my Son Hosea 11:1. Hosea was writing of Godís calling Israel out of Egypt into the Exodus. Matthew, however, gave new understanding viewing the experience as Messiah being identified with the nation. There were similarities between the nation and the Son. They were both sons, in both cases descend into Egypt to escape danger, and the return was significant for the nation. Again we have double meaning under inspiration. It is reasonable that Joseph used the valuable gifts of the magi as a means of financing his trip God could have protected them rite under herodís nose but did so in an very ordinary and unmiraculous way of flight to a foreign country. It was from Egypt that the deliverer would come.

 

(2) What did he know?

Joseph received another revelation in vs 19 to return to Israel after the death of Herod. We know nothing of the families time in Egypt. Herod, Archelaus was ruling over the territories of Judea now, so Bethlehem out of the question. This guy noted for his tyranny, murder and instability and possibly insane similar to his father. The dream was to send him to Galilee in the northern district to the town of Nazareth. The ruler of this territory was Antipas another son of Herod (Lk 23:7-12) but he was a capable leader. This move was also a fulfillment of prophecy vs 23. No specific OT prophecy says Jesus will be a Nazarene. But Matthew does not quote a specific prophet but rather summarizes what several OT prophecies say (Isa 11:1, 42:1-4. 53:2). Nazarene means despised and it could be that Matthew means Jesus would be called despised and indeed he was. This was Nathanielís reaction when he heard Jesus was from Nazareth (John 1:46).

 

(3) How did he respond to Jesus?

We do not have a lot of information about Joseph in the Bible. What information we do have reveals he was an obedient and devout follower of the Lord. he apparently loved his wife and fathered a large family before he died. He must have also taught Jesus the carpenter trade which Jesus took up as the sole provider probably in his teens.

 

We should worship God:

††††††† A. By coming through the mother of God.

††††††† B. By coming to the house of God.

††††††† C. By bringing gifts to God.

C is correct. In this passage the magi worshipped by bringing gifts to God in the person of the baby Jesus. A and B are incorrect because nothing in this passage would suggest that Jesusí mother or the house they were in, had anything to do with worshipping.

 

Applications:

(1) There is only one way to God (Acts 4:12). The magi were led to the baby at Bethlehem not to some king of their own.

(2) Worship focuses on God the Son plus nothing. the magi traveled for months, worshipped the baby of Bethlehem, gave Him gifts, left, and traveled months back home. They asked for nothing. They had no other agenda, they ignored the Temple in Jerusalem, they ignored the synagogues, they came to a house, looked past Mary and worshipped only Jesus. Today we would suggest be tolerant and worship the gods over in Babylon too but salvation is only in Jesus alone.

(3) Circumstances are to be used for wisdom not a mystical sign of the will of God. Joseph followed the Word of God to return to Israel. But he used wisdom along with the word of God to live in Galilee.