Matthew 2

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

Text: Matthew 2

THE VISIT OF THE WISE MEN

INTRODUCTION:

We are in the process of studying the introduction to the Gospel of Matthew. It extends from Matthew 1:1-4:11 .

We have seen the genealogy of Christ which shows that He is the legal heir to the throne of David.

We have also seen the virgin birth of Christ, which indicates that Jesus is God, that He did not have an old sin nature, that He would save His people from their sins, and that He did not come under the curse of Jeconiah.

We're all familiar with the Christmas carol We Three Kings. It is depicted in all the Christmas plays as three kings from the east coming immediately after the departure of the shepherds to worship the newborn Jesus Who is lying in the manger in the stable. The idea comes from Matthew 2 which we want to look at this morning. However, as we examine the text, we find that they were probably not kings, that there may not have been exactly three of them, and that they were not led to the stable to worship the newborn Jesus while He was still lying in the manger.

The scene was Bethlehem, but these men were magi and not kings. Magi is a Persian word used of men involved in astrology. It is not clear where they came from, and they were apparently not astrologers. They may have been astronomers, but they were certainly wise men.

In verse 11 we see that they went into a house rather than into the stable.

In Matthew 2 as we consider the visit of the wise men to worship the Lord Jesus Christ, we see that Jesus will be found by those who seek Him for the right reasons.

We see that -

I. THE WISE MEN FROM THE EAST CAME SEEKING TO WORSHIP THE KING OF THE JEWS - 2:1-2

Matthew 2:1-2 - 1 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, 2 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.

Somehow the wise men knew that Jesus had been born and that He was the King of the Jews. The source of their information is unknown. It is unclear whether it was from Jews whom they knew in the east, from divine revelation, or from some other source.

The wise men came to Jerusalem and were repeatedly asking, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? They were also repeatedly explaining that they had seen His star in the east and had come to worship Him. They were seeking Jesus the Messiah for the right reason.

Word of what the wise men were repeatedly asking and their repeated explanation of it eventually reached Herod, and he was really upset by it. It meant that there was a rival to his throne.

Next, we see that -

II. HEROD SOUGHT TO DESTROY THE KING OF THE JEWS - 2:3-8

We note that -

1. Herod reacted to the wise men's seeking to locate and worship the King of the Jews - 2:3

Matthew 2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled [i.e. disturbed, experienced inner turmoil], and all Jerusalem with him.

Herod immediately began to plot to kill the baby Jesus. He wanted no rivals to his throne. Although the wise men were seeking Jesus the Messiah for the right reason, Herod was seeking Jesus the Messiah for the wrong reason. The wise men would find Him, but Herod would not find Him.

All Jerusalem with him means that the disturbance in Jerusalem was widespread.

Next, we note that -

2. Herod learned the location of the Messiah's birth - 2:4-6

Matthew 2:4-6 - 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of [i.e. inquired from, asked] them where Christ [i.e. the Messiah] should be born. [It is interesting that Herod realized that the King of the Jews whom the wise men were seeking was the promised Messiah. This was an important connection for Herod to make. Jesus, the Messiah, was indeed the King of the Jews.] 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet [i.e. in the prophecy of Micah (5:2)], 6 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.

Interestingly enough, Herod the Great, who was anything but a godly man, acted on the basis of what the Old Testament Scriptures said. He believed what the Scriptures said concerning the birthplace of the Messiah.

After learning where the Messiah would be born, we note that -

3. Herod learned the approximate time of the Messiah's birth - 2:7

Matthew 2:7 Then Herod, when he had privily [i.e. secretly] called the wise men, enquired of them diligently [i.e. sought to ascertain from the wise men exactly, sought to ascertain from the wise men precisely] what time the star appeared.

Herod apparently figured that the birth of Jesus the Messiah coincided with the appearance of the star, which had guided the wise men to Jerusalem.

After learning the location and time of the Messiah's birth, we note that -

4. Herod sought to learn the identity of the Messiah - 2:8

Matthew 2:8 And he [i.e. Herod] sent them [i.e. the wise men] to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently [i.e. search carefully] for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

Herod was masking his real intent of murdering Jesus the Messiah. He was seeking Jesus the Messiah for the wrong reason.

God the Father, however, had other ideas. Jesus the Messiah, was eventually going to die on the cross in payment for the sins of all humanity; so, there was no way He could be murdered as a young child regardless of all the attempts orchestrated by Satan to kill Him. As a result, Herod's attempt to murder Jesus was doomed to failure.

Herod soon died, and Jesus grew up and lived until He shed His blood on the cross for sinners at the exact time of God's choosing.

Following their meeting with Herod, we see that -

III. THE WISE MEN FOUND THE KING OF THE JEWS - 2:9-11

They were seeking Him for the right reason.

We note that -

1. The wise men were supernaturally led to Jesus - 2:9-10

Matthew 2:9-10 - 9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo [i.e. behold], the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was [i.e. above the place where the young child was.]. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

They [i.e. the wise men] rejoiced with exceeding great joy is an emphatic way of saying that they were very glad.

We note furthermore that -

2. The wise men worshiped Jesus - 2:11a

Matthew 2:11 a - And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him [Note that they did not worship Mary. They worshiped Jesus, the King of the Jews. The idea that Mary should be regarded as god is totally false. She was a godly young lady with an old sin nature who needed to be saved from sin just like we do.]. . . .

Next, we note that -

3. The wise men presented gifts to Jesus - 2:11b

Matthew 2:11 b - . . . And when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

Gold was associated with kings - Jesus was the King of the Jews.

Frankincense was associated with God - Jesus was God.

John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Myrrh was associated with man - Jesus was not only 100% God, but He was also 100% human.

John 1:14 - And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Romans 5:15 - But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man [i.e. the generic term for human being], Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

I Timothy 2:5 - For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man [i.e. the generic term for human being] Christ Jesus.

Although God led the wise men to find the King of the Jews, we see that -

IV. HEROD WAS NOT ABLE TO FIND THE KING OF THE JEWS - 2:12-23

We note that -

1. God warned the wise men to depart to their own country in another way - 2:12

Matthew 2:12 And being warned of God [i.e. being warned by God] in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

We also note that -

2. God warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus - 2:13-15

Matthew 2:13-15 - 13 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. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night [i.e. at nighttime], and departed into Egypt: 15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet [i.e. which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet - the prophet is merely the channel through which the Lord spoke], saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

Herod the Great died in 4 B.C. It is a well-established historical date. How long Joseph and his family stayed in Egypt is not stated.

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet is in order that the thing spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled.

Saying introduces what was spoken by the Lord through Hosea the prophet: Out of Egypt have I called my son.

The statement is found in Hosea 11:1 , When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. In Hosea 11:1 , the son whom the Lord called out of Egypt is Israel and is used in reference to Israel's departure from Egypt at the time of the Exodus; but in Matthew 2:15 God the Holy Spirit refers the statement to Jesus as a young child coming out of Egypt in the presence of Mary and Joseph, thus identifying Jesus with the nation of Israel.

Next, we note that -

3. Herod destroyed the innocent children in an attempt to destroy the Messiah - 2:16-18

Herod never found Jesus the Messiah because he sought Him for the wrong reason. Had Herod been seeking Jesus in order to have Jesus save him from his sins, he would have found Him.

Matthew 2:16-18 - 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men [What Herod perceived was that he was deceived (i.e. tricked, outwitted, or made a fool of) by the wise men.] (Then Herod . . .) was exceeding wroth [i.e. became very (or exceedingly) angry.], and sent forth, and slew [i.e. murdered] all the children [i.e. all the male children] that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof [i.e. and in all Bethlehem's boundaries, regions, or districts], from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of [i.e. according to the time which he had ascertained from] the wise men. [Remember that B.C. means "before Christ." Inasmuch as Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great, and inasmuch as it is a well-established fact that Herod the Great died in 4 B.C., the fact that Herod was responsible for the murder of all the male children in the region of Bethlehem who were two years old and under means that Jesus had to be born somewhere between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C., not at 0 B.C. Remember that A.D., i.e. Anno Domini, means "in the year of our Lord," i.e. in the year in which our Lord was born. That Jesus was actually born between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C. rather than 0 B.C. is explained by the fact that after B.C. and A.D. were established, the number of days in a calendar year were changed to include leap year every four years.] 17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy [i.e. by Jeremiah] the prophet, saying, 18 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.

In verse 18 Rachel is pictured as weeping for the children who had been murdered in the area in and around Bethlehem. The quotation is from Jeremiah 31:15 ,

Jeremiah 31:15 - Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel [i.e. Rachel] weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

Rachel's tomb was located in Rama (also spelled "Ramah") which was near Bethlehem. She died giving birth to Benjamin in approximately 1890 B.C. Nearly 1,300 years later, at the time of the Babylonian captivity in 586 B.C., Rachel, who was regarded as the mother of the nation, although long dead, is pictured in Jeremiah 31:15 as weeping for her children, i.e. for the Jewish children killed as a result of the Babylonian captivity.

Again in 6 B.C. - 4 B.C., Rachel is pictured as weeping for her children as the result of Herod the Great's murdering all the male children two years old and under in and around Bethlehem.

In Rama was there a voice heard is a voice in Ramah was heard.

Lamentation is a ritual expression of lament for the dead.

And weeping is and crying.

And great mourning is and much (or extensive) lamentation.

Rachel weeping for (or bewailing) her children pictures Rachel as being the one doing the lamenting, weeping, and mourning for the children.

And would not be comforted is and she was not willing (or was not wanting) to be comforted (or consoled).

Because they (i.e. Rachel's children) are not implies because Rachel's children are no longer alive or because Rachel's children are dead.

Next, we note that -

4. Joseph was led back to Israel after Herod's death but settled in Nazareth of Galilee rather than in Judea - 2:19-23

Matthew 2:19-23 - 19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 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. 21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus [i.e. Herod Archelaus] did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod [i.e. in the place of his father Herod the Great], he was afraid to go thither [i.e. He was afraid to go there. Archelaus, who succeeded his father as king of Judea, was known for tyranny, murder, and instability. God allowed this information about Archelaus to come to Joseph's attention in order that He might direct Joseph to go to Nazareth to live and not to settle in Judea. This is how God led Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Nazareth.]: notwithstanding [i.e. and], being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: 23 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.

That is in order that.

It might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets means the thing which was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled. It pictures God speaking through the prophets as His mouthpieces.

What was spoken through the prophets is, He shall be called a Nazarene. However, you will search the Old Testament Scriptures in vain to find this statement. We must recognize that since the Holy Spirit directed Matthew to write this statement, it is true even though where, by whom, and how often it was spoken is not clear to us.

It is interesting that it says by the prophets rather than by the prophet. It suggests that God said, He shall be called a Nazarene through more than one prophet. It doesn't have to be recorded in the Old Testament to be true. There were lots of Old Testament prophets, and any two of them could have said this if God so directed.

Although I don't prefer it, another possibility has been suggested: since Matthew used the plural prophets, perhaps his idea was not based on a specific prophecy but on the idea that appeared in a number of prophecies concerning Messiah's despised character. Nazareth was the town which housed the Roman garrison for the northern regions of Galilee. Therefore, most Jews would not have any associations with that city. In fact those who lived in Nazareth were thought of as compromisers who consorted with the enemy, the Romans. Therefore to call one "a Nazarene" was to use a term of contempt. So because Joseph and his family settled in Nazareth, the Messiah was later despised and considered contemptible in the eyes of many in Israel. This was Nathanael's reaction when he heard that Jesus was from Nazareth (John 1:46 ): "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" This concept fit several Old Testament prophecies that speak of the lowly character of the Messiah (e.g., Isa. 42:1-4). Also the term "Nazarene" would have reminded Jewish readers of the similar-sounding word "Nazirite" (Num. 6:1-21). Jesus was more devoted to God than the Nazirites (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

CONCLUSION:

Jesus is near for those who are seeking Him and will be found by them.

Psalms 145:18-20 - (18) The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. (19) He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. (20) The Lord preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.

Wise men still seek the Lord. Have you sought Him in order that you might find Him? Have you sought Him in order that He might save you from your sins?

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