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A Tale of Two Kings
As we saw last week (“Let the Christmas Spirit Get Into You | Matthew 1:22-25 Bible Study), God had His hands all in human history — in order to enter human history – at just the right time.
And though, Jesus faces threats even as an infant, the Father’s plans are something no threat can thwart. God’s providence is something no king can overcome.
The Magi likely don’t even understand the full significance of what’s going on. But the LORD meets them where they are – even in pagan astrology (cf. Dn 2:1-2, 10-13)– and orders their steps by the Savior’s star (cf. Num 24:17; Rev 22:16; cf. Rev 2:28; 2 Pet 1:9).
They receive divine direction and bring gifts to the newborn King – the prophesied, messianic Son of David. To Jesus, who will bring salvation to His people. To Immanuel (Mt 1:23) who will be God with us.
By bringing gifts to the Messiah, they fulfill Old Testament Scriptures – which foretell of Gentile kings and Gentile nations bringing gifts to Jerusalem and to her King (Ps 72:10-11, 45:7-9; Is 60:6, 9; cf. 1 Ki 10:10).
And these gifts are likely very helpful financially when the Joseph, Mary, and Jesus have to flee to Egypt — as we’ll hopefully see next week (Mt 2:13-23). The LORD provides.
But, in conclusion, Matthew 2 is basically a tale of two kings. Jesus, the legitimate King, the messianic son of David – is contrasted with Herod – the Idumean who acts illegitimately.
Whereas the pagan Magi seek Jesus to worship Him; Israel’s ruler seeks Jesus to kill Him.
You would think that the ruler of the Jews would rejoice for the Jewish Messiah. But instead of assembling for worship, Herod calls an assembly for an assassination!
Once again, Matthew demonstrates how Jesus, born in Bethlehem, fulfills the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah (cf. Mic 5:2; cf. Jn 7:42; 2 Sam 5:2; Eze 34:23-24).
And once again, Matthew demonstrates that Jesus came not to just reign over Israel, but to reign over Gentiles – over all nations of the world (cf. Mt 28:19-20).
So, Matthew presents us with a choice: will we behave more like Herod or more like the Magi?
We shouldn’t dabble with magic and astrology and divination (cf. Ex 22:18, Lev 20:27; Dt 18:9-13; 1 Sam 28:3, 7-9; 2 Ki 21:6, 23:24; cf. Lev 19:26,31; 2 Ch 33:6; Is 2:6; Ac 19:18-19). But the question is: will we worship Jesus as King? Or will we still try to be the kings of our own lives?
We like to call each other kings and queens, but we have to let Christ have His crown.
Herod was unwilling give up his throne. Are we unwilling to give Jesus the throne of our lives?
The Magi brought Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh – gifts fit for a king. This Christmas, what will we bring Jesus?
We often ask, “What do you want for Christmas?” But a better question is, “what does Christ want from you?”
This Christmas, the question shouldn’t be, “What are we getting for Christmas?”, but “What are we getting Christ for Christmas?”
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holy Day.
1 Then, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold: Magi from the East arrived in Jerusalem 2 saying, “Where is the One who was born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the East [or at its rising] and we have come to worship Him.” 3 But when King Herod heard, he was unsettled – and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And having assembled all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah [Christ] was to be born.
5 Then they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judah. For so it has been written by the prophet: 6 And 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.
7 Then Herod, having secretly called the Magi, ascertained from them the precise time of the shining star. 8 And sending them into Bethlehem, he said, “Go, investigate precisely about the Child. Then, when you find [Him], report back to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.
9 Then they, having heard the King, went and behold: the star which they had seen in the East [or at its rising]! It went before them until it came to a standstill over [the place] where the Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they came into the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary and, falling down [to their knees], they worshipped Him. And having opened their treasure chests, they presented Him with gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12 And having received a divine warning in a dream not to return to Herod, they withdrew to their land by different way. (Mt 2:1-12, AT)
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(Updated with sources from the Matthew 2:13-23 Bible Study)
- Alexander, T. Desmond. Exodus. Edited by David W. Baker and Gordon J. Wenham. Vol. 2. Apollos Old Testament Commentary. London; Downers Grove, IL: Apollos; InterVarsity Press, 2017.
- Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, Walter Bauer, and F. Wilbur Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. [BDAG]
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- Blomberg, Craig. Matthew. Vol. 22. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992.
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- Butterworth, G. Michael. “Hosea.” In New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, edited by D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, and G. J. Wenham, 4th ed., 764–79. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.
- Carson, D. A. “Matthew.” In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition), edited by Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, Vol. 9. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010.
- Cohick, Lynn H. Women in the World of the Earliest Christians: Illuminating Ancient Ways of Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.
- Cole, R. Alan. Exodus: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 2. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973.
- Cross, F. L., and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. [ODCC]
- Evans, Craig A. The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Matthew–Luke. Edited by Craig A. Evans and Craig A. Bubeck. First Edition. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2003.
- Holleyman, Eric. “Sheba.” Edited by David Noel Freedman, Allen C. Myers, and Astrid B. Beck. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000.
- Kidner, F. Derek. “Isaiah.” In New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, edited by D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, and G. J. Wenham, 4th ed., 629–70. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.
- Keener, Craig S. “Family and Household.” Dictionary of New Testament Background: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000. [DNTB]
- Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2009. [Keener]
- Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. New York: United Bible Societies, 1996. [LN]
- Motyer, J. A. “The Psalms.” In New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, edited by D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, and G. J. Wenham, 4th ed., 485–583. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.
- McComiskey, Thomas E. “Hosea (Person).” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988. [BEB]
- Newman, Barclay Moon, and Philip C. Stine. A Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies, 1992. [UBS]
- Schmidt, Alvin J. How Christianity Changed the World. Zondervan. Kindle Edition, 2004.
- Silva, Moisés, ed. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014. [NIDNTTE]
- Wilkins, Michael J. “Matthew”. In Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke. Vol. 1. Edited by Arnold, Clinton E. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002. [Wilkins Z]
- Wilkins, Michael J. Matthew. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2004. [Wilkins]