Springboarding off of the Apostle Paul’s life focus, clearly expressed in 1 Corinthians 2:2, Pastor Greg launched an “open-ended” message series on January 12th, 2020 – focusing on “Just Jesus.” He is walking us through the entire New Testament, pulling passages from the Old Testament for context, and keep us focused throughout the year on “Just Jesus.” This week he covers Matthew 2:1-18, retelling the arrival of the magi (wisemen) who come to see Jesus, the newborn King.
For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:2
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” ~ Matthew 2:1-2
μάγος ~ magos ~ (GREEK)
Refers to a Persian or Median, someone from Mede, someone from Persia, modern day Iran. Magi were Zoroastrian priests, astrologers, magicians, sorcerers, wizards, who practiced a mixture of religion, astrology, magic and soothsaying.
ᾰ̓στήρ ~ astḗr – (GREEK)
Most often translated “star” ~ in the ancient world it could refer to any visible light in the sky, including comets, planets, nova and supernova. Any astronomical light in the sky.
προσκυνέω ~ proskuneó ~ (GREEK)
Literally it means “to kiss toward” someone. It involves, bowing low, as you blow kisses toward someone. Even dropping to the ground, and kissing the ground the person walks on. To adore and worship someone as your superior from a position of humility, bowing down, kneeling, even laying face down on the ground before them.
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.~ Matthew 2:3
Not the whole populace of Jerusalem, just the power brokers. They knew the Messiah would bring judgment.
Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he [Herod] inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’” ~ Matthew 2:4-6
THE SCRIBES WERE PARAPHRASING MICAH 5:2-4
But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. ~ Micah 5:2
Ephrathah = Where Rachel died in childbirth and was buries by Jacob, who was renamed Israel by God. A synonymn for Bethlehem and for the tribe of Judah in general.
Therefore He will give them up until the time when she who is in labor has borne a child. Then the remainder of His brethren will return to the sons of Israel And He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth. This One will be our peace… ~ Micah 5:3-5a
יָשַׁב ~ yashab ~ (HEBREW)
To remain. To abide.
Remain/Abide in me, and I will remain/abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains/abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain/abide in me. ~ John 15:4
μένω ~ menó ~ (GREEK)
To remain. To abide. Like the Hebrew yawshab they both mean to endure indefinitely. To make someplace your permanent dwelling place.
This One will be our peace. ~ Micah 5:5a
Jesus, the Prince of Peace also told us in John’s Gospel. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. ~ John 14:27
Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. ~ Matthew 2:7
And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” (Everyone say/type “Liar Liar Pants On Fire!”) After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother;… ~ Matthew 2:8-11a
παιδίον ~ paidion ~ (GREEK)
It can refer to a child anywhere from infancy all the way up to an adolescent.
βρέφος ~ brephos ~ (GREEK)
Luke refers to Jesus in the Christmas account as an infant. Matthew refers to the magi visiting a child.
Also, notice they Magi find Jesus and Mary in a house. Not in a stable. By implication, this is some time after the birth of Jesus when Mary and Joseph have surely returned from the census, back to Nazareth, to their hometown, to Joseph’s house.
After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. ~ Matthew 2:11
These were standard gifts in that culture to give to a king but they also serve as prophetic symbols of Jesus’ role as the ultimate prophet, priest and king.
And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way. ~ Matthew 2:12
Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. ~ Matthew 2:13-16
Mystery solved. The Magi were not present at the stable on the night of Jesus’ birth. They showed up at Joseph’s house in Nazareth about two years later. Matthew tells us of this slaughter by Herod, reminiscent of Pharaoh’s slaughter of male Hebrew children when Moses the first deliverer was born.
Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.” ~ Matthew 2:17-18
Many of Jacob’s wife Rachel’s descendents – her children – and many of Leah’s descendants for that matter, many children of Jacob, later renamed Israel by God, had all been murdered by Herod. That’s where we’re going to stop today. So, what’s today’s takeaway? The Magi are also known, as we said, by the name wisemen. They were wise enough to know they should look for Jesus and worship Him when they found Him.
Everyone in our world is searching for truth, life, a way forward, hope, healing peace.
WISEMEN and WISEWOMEN STILL SEEK HIM
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. ~ John 14:6
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. ~ Jeremiah 29:13