Wise Men Still Seek Him!
"Wise Men Still Seek Him!" - Matthew 2
Jesus has been born, circumcised and given His name, and presented to the Lord in the temple at Jerusalem. Luke omits the flight to Egypt, but Matthew fill us in on what happened. It is obvious that the visitors did not arrive during the 40 days of Mary’s purification, since they had to offer two pigeons or two turtle doves; the offering of poor people to cover their sin and redeem her firstborn son.
2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
Herod was the first in a line of Jewish kings, who was not Jewish, but Idumean or a descendant of Esau. They are the present day Arabs in the Middle East. The Scepter had departed from Israel. He was a covert to Judaism, but probably only for political purposes for he had little concern for the Jewish people. He was a ruthless tyrant that murdered anyone that was a threat to his throne, including wives and his own children. He is remembered as a great builder, and the grand temple at Jerusalem was one of his most remembered projects. It took over forty years to build, and was not finished until after his death which occurred in 4 BC, probably the same or next year after Jesus was born.
The city that should have received the news with joy was disturbed by anything that might upset its status quo or risk the displeasure of the hated Roman rulers.
Men from the east were probably astrologers, those who studied the stars and planets, and tried to predict earthly events based on heavenly activity. They may have been descendants of Daniel from Persia, who may have had knowledge of the prophecies of the coming Messiah King. They were gentiles, but knew this One, would fulfill the predictions of the eternal King of the Jews.
“Where is He?” They asked everyone after the star’s light no longer led them. It seems the leaders of the people who were expecting the Messiah were kept from seeing the star. Only five or six miles separated Jerusalem and Bethlehem, but they did not see the light. The gentile seekers saw the light of His star. The True Light of the World.
5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
6‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”
They knew where the Ruler who will shepherd, My people Israel was to be born. They understood he would be a man, and would be born in the city of David’s birth, Bethlehem.
They failed to respond to the information God had made known to them. Apparently they believed God would send a Savior, but not now. Many people believe they need to be saved, they need to trust in Jesus; but not now. This is the devil’s lie. There will come a moment in time when it will be too late to make that commitment, which will lead to eternal separation and torment for refusing to surrender to God’s only cure for sin and forgiveness.
7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
Herod closely questioned the Magi, to determine when they first observed the star and began their trip to Jerusalem. He told them to search for and find the child, then come back and tell him, so he can go to worship Him too.
9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.
2:10 Special mention is made of the exceedingly great joy of the wise men when they saw the star. These Gentiles diligently sought for Christ; Herod planned to kill Him; the priests and scribes were (as yet) indifferent; the people of Jerusalem were troubled.
These attitudes were omens of the way in which the Messiah would be received. Some would seek Him, others want to destroy Him; and still others, those who should have been most interested in His coming, were indifferent since they liked their own prominence and the way things were. They really didn’t care about anything or anybody changing their deal, changing their way of life. Many, even some Christians, feel that way today.
11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Notice these men were led by the star, to the house where they saw the young Child. The term means one older than an infant. The child is mentioned first, He was the goal of their diligent search. He should be the goal, of every seeking soul, in this world. Mary, his mother is mentioned, but Joseph is not mentioned; and it is speculated he died while Jesus was young. The last mention of Joseph is when Jesus was twelve at the temple is Jerusalem.
They fell down and worshipped Him. They did not worship Mary or Joseph. The treasures or gifts they brought were gold; symbol of royalty and deity. Frankincense is used for anointing prophets, priests, and kings; Jesus would qualify for all three. Three gifts = three kings, probably a dozen or more.
The treasures they brought spoke volumes. Gold is a symbol of deity and glory; it speaks of the shining perfection of His divine Person. Frankincense is an ointment or perfume; it suggests the fragrance of the life of sinless perfection. Myrrh is a bitter herb; it predictsthe sufferings He would endure in bearing the sins of the world.
The bringing of gifts by Gentiles is reminiscent of the language of Isaiah 60:6. Isaiah predicted that Gentiles would come to the Messiah with gifts, but mentioned only gold and frankincense: “… they shall bring gold and incense. And they shall proclaim the praises of the Lord.” Why was myrrh omitted? Because Isaiah was looking forward to and speaking of Christ’s second coming—His coming in power and great glory. There will be no myrrh then because He will not suffer then. But in Matthew the myrrh is included because His first coming is in view. In Matthew we have the sufferings of Christ; in this passage of Isaiah, the glories that shall follow were seen.
12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. Instead of returning to tell Herod about the child, God intervened in a dream telling them to return home, without, telling Herod. God knew Herod’s heart and intention to kill the child.
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you 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 and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Joseph is also warned and woke up and immediately took the Child and His mother to Egypt and remained there until Herod died. This may have only been a few weeks later since Herod died around the time year Jesus was born.
Matthew, writing to Jewish readers, refers to more OT prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus’ life than any other Bible writer.
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:
18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more.”
Herod was enraged the magi did not help him find the child, so he had all the male children two years old and under killed. Bethlehem and its districts, the surrounding villages.
Ramah was the village near where Rachel, favorite wife of Jacob (Israel) was buried. When Israel went into Babylonian captivity in 586 BC, this was fulfilled because Rachael’s children were either dead or led away as slaves. Now a second fulfillment comes, as the babies were murdered by Herod’s henchmen.
This was not a heavily populated area, and the number of infants and young children would not be large, and it has been estimated fewer than 200 children were slain.
19 Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” 21 Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.
22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region 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.”
Herod died shortly after this atrocity and an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph to take Jesus back to Israel. He obeyed his instructions, and on returning to Israel, the wicked king was replaced by another vile man, Archelaus.
God further warns Joseph in a dream to go back to Galilee. They settle in the city of Nazareth, the crossroads for trade and military troops to pass through.
Matthew says the prophets said Jesus would be called a Nazarene. There is no OT statement to that effect; but the reputation of Nazareth was so bad, that anyone coming from that city was considered inferior. When Nathaniel was told they had found the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, he asked “can anything good thing come out of Nazareth?”
Jesus was born exactly where the Bible said He would be. He was sought by gentile astrologers and brought gifts fit for a great king. God warns Herod is going to try to kill the child, and they flee to Egypt. Herod executes innocent children, dies, and the family returns to settle in Nazareth.
The world was expecting the Jewish Messiah; the Jews were not.
He came in a manner totally un-expected to one of the lowliest places on earth, and the good news was first declared to the lowest of society, and moved to the lowest of towns around. All this confirms that Jesus is lowly and meek; who came to seek and save the worst of all society. This includes you, and me.
There are none who cannot receive the gifts of forgiveness of sin and salvation of their souls; except those, who will not hear, and believe. WAY? Where are you in God’s plan of salvation?
This is the first Sunday of 2015, what do you plan to do differently this year so you walk closer to the Lord? How are you going to do His will this year? Was He pleased with your old year? Were you pleased with your old year? That’s why we call it a New Year; you have a brand new opportunity to serve the Lord Jesus for the next 52 weeks, if He allows you to remain on the earth that long.
What are you, going to do about Jesus, this year?