In case you missed our article last Sunday, Sjmom came up with the idea of posting the chapters of the 4 Gospels for our Sunday articles. We began with “the Begats” last week, so we continue today with Matthew Chapter 2.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 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.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 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. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 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.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 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. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
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. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
As in the first chapter of the first of the Four Gospel accounts, chapter 2 is full of nuggets worth digging and pondering over.
First, those not mentioned in Matthew’s account were the first to witness the Messiah- the Shepherds. Shepherds were considered one of the lowliest of society, low men on the totem pole and pretty much looked down upon by everyone in those days.
It’s interesting the correlation between the account of David, the young shepherd who was mocked by his older brothers yet became not only King, but as the promised ancestor of the Messiah coming through his bloodline. Here we have the King of Kings, being presented to shepherds who had been watching their flocks. They were visited by a multitude of heavenly angels with the proclamation of the birth of the Savior.
While later Jesus talks about the Good Shepherd, leaving the 99 to go search for the one lost sheep- we find the shepherds leaving their flocks to run to see the one true King.
What is accounted in Matthew however are those wise men from the East who came when Jesus was about 2 years of age. That leaves a pretty large gap of time between the enthusiastic presentation of the most amazing birth of all time; witnessed by the lowliest, to the quieter visitation by great men of knowledge and wealth… where nothing much is said of the time between. One would think that such a miracle would have created much more of an impact on the Jews who were waiting for their Messiah.
The problem was, they expected Messiah to be a mighty man of God, a King born into royalty befitting such a savior of the Jewish people. They expected someone to rule as the old days of the Kings and save them from oppression of Roman rule.
Surely some kid born in a filthy stable, laid in a feeding trough of all places would never do and must have been considered blasphemous to even think that God would give such a common savior to His people.
Interesting that the wise men (most likely Persian) reminded Herod, tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, raised as a Jew, and surrounded by counsel knowledgeable of all things Jewish, that this birth was fulfillment of prophecy. For thus it is written by the prophet, 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 Which is from the Old Testament book of Micah chapter 5 verse 2.
It’s also interesting to note that even upon the birth of Jesus- surely word spread as the Shepherds and others told of the unusual and heavenly events which had happened, that the religious and prominent Jews were silent concerning the Christ child. And yet with the visit by the Magi, Gentiles who had traveled a great distance to inquire about this special event, and to learn more of this child ‘King’. The homage paid by these men was worthy of a very important person. Notice too the faith and knowledge of the birth that they had when they ask, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? Instead of asking if there really was a king born.
It shows the thread in which God was weaving, leading gentiles into the faith of Jesus, even while the prophecy, “we esteemed him not” was being played out from the beginning of Jesus’s birth.
There is so much more to be learned about the prophecies fulfilled in this chapter it would take a whole other article to write. SO, for our Sunday lesson, which prophecies from Matthew Chapter 2 are your favorites?
Have a blessed Sunday all!