Friday, September 18, 2020

Matthew 2 - Part 1


Read Matthew 2

The first thing that I want to do is mess up the Nativity Scene.  I’m not really going to mess it up, just clarify that it is representative of what took part over the course of a couple years not just one or two evenings.

Jesus could have been as old as 2 years at the time of the visit of the Maji.  Herod calculated this based upon the report of how long the Maji had been following the star.  We should also note that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were in a house at the time of the visit.

Is it possible that the star was visible before the birth of the Lord?  In any case, the star led the wise men to this place at this time, which was not while Joseph and his family were in the manger.

Do you know if it was a buyer’s market or a seller’s market for homes at this time?  It was usually a builder’s market.  It’s possible that Joseph had built his family a house.

It may not have taken 2 years to get a house, but they were not in the manger when the Maji came.

But who were the Maji?  There is universal agreement that these men were kings or not.  They were astrologers or not.  They were magicians or not.  The agreement on the subject is that there are many opinions as to whom these men were.

Chances are, they were not kings.  Kings normally travel with processions and sometimes protective details—army detachments if you will.

They were surely wise.  They found Jesus from who knows where they started.  All we know is that it was from the east.  Saudi, Iran, Afghanistan, India, China—who knows exactly where their journey began.  The names of where they began may have also been different than they are today.

Did they travel at night?  If they were crossing desert it would make sense.  It would surely be easier to see the star at night.  If you do the math at 25 miles per day, these Maji may have come from up to 2,000 miles away; but it could have been much closer.

They knew they were looking for the King of the Jews and that was a big thing, wherever they may have come from.

They were more clued in to this event than the local authority.  Herod had to summon the Chief Priests and Teachers of the Law to get answers.  He knew of the Messiah.  He would come someday.  He obviously did not know of a birth in a manger near Bethlehem.

Here is what I ask you to consider.  Jesus came to the lost sheep of Israel.  This was foretold through scripture.  He was the Messiah, the Anointed One promised to God’s Chosen People.  This was a Hebrew thing.

Except, it was a global thing.  Jesus came through the line of Abraham and David but he came to save the world.  The story of the Christ comes through God’s Chosen People, but this was a birth that impacted the entire world.

To which we in America would say Amen, Hallelujah, and Praise the Lord.  We are so glad to be included in his salvation.  We are so blessed to be recipients of his love.

We are glad that salvation is not limited by geography or time.

But how did people from somewhere else know about God?

Go to the end of Genesis 4.  People began to call upon the name of the Lord.  Continue through the flood.  Not every line that came from Noah went through Abraham.  Noah had found favor with God and through his family, the world was populated once again.

Consider how many times the Hebrew people had been scattered about the world by some nation bent on being an empire.  We read of synagogues as Paul and other apostles ventured west into Europe but we don’t have much information about what took place to the east.

There were people in the world other than God’s Chosen People who knew of God—the one true God.  Did the Maji know the one true God?  We don’t know but we do know that the birth of Christ was of global significance.  It wasn’t just a local thing.

These men from afar left gifts.  Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh were noted.  You know gold and most know Frankincense.  It’s used for anointing and blessing.  Myrrh is a resin that historically been used as perfume, incense, or for medicinal purposes.

Some place significance on these as gifts needed to prepare Jesus for burial.   That’s a real begin with the end in mind interpretation.

What I will ask you to consider is that these were all valuable gifts, appropriate for a king.  Before they left home, these men packed expecting to find a king.

What I ask you to think on from this part is that while prophecy came to God’s Chosen People, the birth of Jesus was an event of global importance and known beyond the Promised Land.

These men as indicated by the value of their gifts, truly came in search of a king.  They expected to find a king.

Here’s something to chew on.  Scriptures vary somewhat on the dream that these men had that caused them to leave a different way and avoid Herod and the report that he wanted.

Some say in a dream that was of God or from God and others just say they were warned in a dream.  The dream was obviously fulfilled God’s  purpose and was followed by one to Joseph that enabled him to pick up his family and seek shelter in Egypt, but the question remains unanswered if these wise men also believed in the one true God.

In any case, the birth of Jesus was not a local event and these men truly came seeking a king.

All of creation was waiting for the arrival of a Savior.

One last thing that we find in the beginning of this chapter.  Whether they knew the one true God or not, they said that they followed the star and came to worship this king.

They came to worship!

Did they know they worshiped the King of Kings?   It’s something to chew on.


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