Summary: Christmas is about Christ, not about gifts, family, or even me.
Christmas Is About Christ
Christmas is about Christ.
This story is shared by Matthew in a way to remind us that Christmas is about Christ. There are two ways in which Matthew shows us that Christmas is about Christ. The first way is by showing us the obvious ways in which Jesus Christ fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. This is important because it established to the Jews that Jesus was the one who will be “King of the Jews.” Fulfilled prophecy is also one way in which we can share Christ with those who have questions about Him.
Here is a list of the prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ in Matthew 2.
PROPHECY OF CHRIST AND HIS FIRST COMING
Prophecies Fulfilled in Matthew 2 Old Testament Link
2:5-6 Micah 5:2
2:15 Hosea 11:1
2:17-18 Jeremiah 31:15
2:20 Exodus 4:19 (parallel to the call of Moses)
2:23 Isaiah 4:2, 11:1
Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15
Zechariah 3:8, 6:12-13
If someone asks you “Why do you celebrate Christmas?” you can talk about the birth of Christ during this time. You can point them to the way in which the Old Testament spoke about Jesus Christ. Many people want proof that Jesus was born and this is one kind of proof. Jesus was a person who was born in history and He was spoken about in the Old Testament. Matthew goes to great lengths to show us this prophetic link to the Old Testament.
The second way in which Matthew shows us that Christmas is about Christ is the way in which this story is told. Everything about how this story plays out points to Jesus Christ as being the main point of the story. There are three groups of people in this story. Each of them react to the birth of Jesus Christ is a certain way. They way they react to the birth of Christ is an example that can teach us today.
We can look at these three groups and ask ourselves:
“What is Christmas about to me?”
There are three types of people in this story. When you talk about Christmas and Christ being part of it, you will run into someone who is part of one of these groups.
GROUP #1 - People who want to MANIPULATE Christ. (2:3-8, 16-18)
For these people, Christmas is about CONSUMING. They believe in getting the gifts, instead of worshipping the Giver of those gifts.
They want to replace Christ with a cheap imitation. In this story, Herod wanted to find out where this child who was born King of the Jews was located. He wanted to kill him, so that these worshippers would replace Christ with Herod.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the child. When you find Him, report back to me so that I too can go and worship Him." (Matthew 2:8 CSB)
We do the same thing today:
We replace Merry Christmas with Happy Holidays.
We replace worshipping with wanting.
We replace Christ with Santa.
Each of these is a cheap imitation.
GROUP #2 - People who want to WORSHIP Christ. (2:1-2, 9-11)
For these people, Christmas is about CELEBRATING. They believe in using traditions to celebrate about Christ.
While Christ did not command us as Christians to celebrate His birth, it has become an excellent time to share Christ with others who need Him.
THE WISE MEN - WHO WERE THEY?
Here are some simple facts about the wise men.
There were more than three wise men. There were only three gifts.
They were wise men, translated from the word we get our English word magician. Back in those days, the Magi used astrology and science to advise the king.
These wise men were like the Cabinet to the President in today’s terms. They advised the king by using their science and knowledge.
Where in the East did they come from?
They came either from Babylon or Persia. Persia is more likely, because the Persians conquered the Babylonians under Cyrus the Great. He issued the first Declaration of Human Rights, which allowed the Jews to return to their homeland. It is very likely that the wise men in his time heard about the prophecies about a Jewish king, and they continued to share that with wise men until the time of Jesus.
Why were these wise men included in this story? They are probably here to show that wise men, even Gentile wise men, sought Jesus out, while a Jewish king Herod, who should have known the Old Testament prophecies neither personally sought Him out, nor properly honored Him.
A complete industry for a season has been developed. We have Christmas plays, Christmas parties, and other traditions which tell others that we celebrate Christ.