The Magi Visit the Messiah
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
The Escape to Egypt
13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”[c]
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”[d]
The Return to Nazareth
19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.
Matthew is the Book of the King.
Chp 1 = genealogy, how he was conceived and born. This is the virgin birth – he is fully God and fully man = born of our bones and flesh, but perfectly sinless, no original sin nature.
The doctrine of the virgin birth is so important, an undeniable truth – it is taught in the Bible and we believe the inspiration of the Scriptures. It is unchangeable truth – this doctrine stands with the teaching of the Scriptures, it doesn’t change.
Virgin birth is necessary in the plan of salvation. Salvation of even one soul (without the virgin birth) is utterly impossible. Our life/birth is also a kind of mystery. Who can explain how a tree gives birth/life to its seed?
If we can understand something of God, it’ll help to believe in God. Imagine if we could contain all of God in our limited brains, it would mean he was a limited being. But he isn’t, he’s limitless.
- This truth is also unconditional. It should be accepted whether or not we understand. Truth is truth, fact is fact.
- This is unmistakeable truth – we meet it every year at Christmas.
- This is useful truth. Almighty God (Emmanuel) has become a man to be with us (with you). Almighty God without sin is always available to save us, to protect us, to keep us.
Chp 2 – More explanation of his birth (our King)
Matthew is the bridge between OT and NT (the Promised Messiah). That’s why in the book of Matthew, we see many quotations from the OT. (Here there are 4). This means that EVERY event in the birth/life of Christ happened to fulfill the OT prophecies.
#1: v.6 – He was born in Bethlehem
How he was born (virgin) was prophesied
Where he was born was prophesied also. (Micah 5:2) Mi-Ka (Korean)
“…whose origins are from of old, from ancient times…”
The time is during the human kind Herod. When he heard of the baby king, he was furious and tried to kill him. In the NT, there are actually many Herods.
- John the Baptist’s Herod – imprisoned him, killed him.
- Jame’s Herod – put him and Peter in prison – killed by an angel.
- Paul’s Herod – heard Paul’s testimony in Acts.
- THIS is the original Herod – the founder of Herod’s royal family – he built the temple in Jerusalem to buy the house of the Jews – he was half Jew (Jacob) and half Edomite (Esau). He was ALWAYS suspicious. He killed his wife and her mother. He killed his eldest son and other two sons. There was a saying “It’s safer to be Herod’s dog than his son.” (historically)
Now, he hears about a baby king, so not surprisingly, he was furious.
The Magi came from the East. They were the group of scholars who studied the sky. God gave them a miraculous star, so they traveled to Jerusalem and Bethlehem to visit the king. We do not know actually how many Magi came – there are three gifts, so we usually assume three. But, their visit was enough to trouble the WHOLE city of Jerusalem. Then, Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
Bethlehem was a small town, south of Jerusalem. It had a long history. Jacob had buried Rachel there. Ruth lived there when she married Boaz. The meaning of Bethlehem = The House of Bread. This reminds us of Jesus’ announcement: “I am the Bread of Life.”
#2: v. 15
“Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Hosea 11:1)
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”
When Herod heard of the baby king, he sent the Magi and said, “please let me know where he is so I can worship him.” (really wanted to kill him).
So, an angel told Joseph to flee to Egypt until Herod’s death. Afterward, they returned.
#3: v. 17-18 (Jeremiah 31:15)
After the Magi worshiped him, they were also instructed in a dream not to go back to Herod – so they went back to their country by another way. When Herod heard this, he gave orders to kill ALL the babies in Bethlehem and the surrounding area, 2 years old and younger. Infanticide = ONE baby is too many.
This was done to fulfill the prophecy in the OT.
#4: v. 23
Bethlehem -> Egypt -> Israel -> Nazareth
Jesus moved many times as a baby.
They returned to Israel, but when Joseph heard of Herod’s son (Archelaus – a killer) – he went to Galilee and Nazareth (told to go by an angel).
Actually “he will be called a Nazarene” and even the word “Nazareth” cannot be found in the OT. So, we cannot really know clearly what Matthew meant by this prophecy.
Maybe by the leading of the Holy Spirit, Matthew had a connection between Jesus and the Hebrew word “nazar” = “a shoot”
Isaiah says, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse and he will bear much fruit.”
From this story of Jesus’ birth, there are 3 reactions to Jesus’ coming. These same reactions happened 2,000 years ago and are STILL happening today.
#1: Herod… do you want to belong here?
Hatred and hostility. Afraid that this baby would interfere with his life, position, power, money, influence. So, he wanted to kill, destroy, eliminate him.
Still today, there are those who would gladly rid the world of Jesus. Why? Because they just want to do whatever they want – without the “interference” of Jesus. The man who wants to do whatever he wants has no use for Jesus.
The Christian is one who has STOPPED doing what he wants and started doing what Jesus wants.
#2: Teachers of the Law and the Scribes.
They were so interested in their own legal, religious discussions and traditions, Jesus’ coming made no difference to them.
Still today, there are so many people who are so interested in their own hobbies, businesses, concerns, that they don’t even care about Jesus.
Jeremiah asks, “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”
#3: Magi – Wise men
Adoring worship to Jesus. They traveled a very long distance (we don’t know how long). The WHOLE purpose of their journey was to worship Jesus. They saw many great men and women – even kings. But they only worshiped Jesus – no others.
In a sense our lives can be said as a journey. How do you feel your journey in this world is going? Long, or short? If you are wise – if you WANT to be wise, wise ETERNALLY, please make the worship of Jesus Christ the purpose of ALL purposes in this journey.
Yes, we can have many purposes – purpose in our degrees, families, businesses, careers. But the overlying purpose of all these purposes should be worship of Jesus.
For our worship to be true worship, there must be offering, gift, present.
OT: God says, “You should never appear before the Lord empty-handed.” These three wise men brought three offerings.
- Incense, Frankincense
These are meaningful to explain the character of Jesus and what he has done
- Gold = king – no one approached a king without gold – the king of metals. He was a man born to be king – not by force, but love – not from a throne, but the cross.
- Incense, Frankincense = priest – sweet smell of the incense was used in the temple worship and sacrifices. The function of the priest was to make the way for man to God (mediator) “pontiface” = bridge builder – building a bridge between God and man. Main ministry of priest was to make a way between man and God. ALL humans have tried to find a way between man and God. But, Jesus didn’t need to find one, he IS THE One.
- Myrrh = death and burial. It was used to embalm the body of the dead. He came to die. He came to live and to die for us. His gifts are for us – his life and his death
Jesus = king, priest (also prophet), sacrifice
The real gift = giving to Jesus Christ = it is the best, wisest investment for eternity.
How and for what do you spend your life, your values, your energy, and your money?
If you are wise eternally, give your best (and first fruits) to Jesus.