Summary: Many times we think of Mary’s role in the birth of Jesus, but Matthew records the difficult road Joseph had to travel in protecting this little life that the enemy wanted to snuff out.
Have you noticed that the first chapters of Matthew are really Joseph’s story? Luke records Mary’s version of events and has her genealogy, but Matthew one is Joseph’s lineage, and her in Chapter 2 we find God again speaking to Joseph about caring for the safety of the Messiah.
As a father, the care and well being of your family is paramount. We have an innate need to provide for them. Matthew was basically a contractor
What is Matthew’s point? The case for Jesus as the king and Messiah. Kings from other countries recognized him (like they did for Solomon), and even Herod has a sneaking suspicion that Jesus is the Messiah.
The thread of the Messiah still hangs by a thread, but God in his sovereignty protects it.
1 – 12
One thing that strikes out at me was that the religious leaders of the day knew very well where Messiah would be born. But the fact that it was possible the Messiah had actually come, signified by this supernaturally inspired road trip of the wise men, didn’t move them. Either they had head knowledge but not heart, or there had been so many messiah’s at the time that they dismissed it. Either course is not wise when trying to find God. It doesn’t mean you delve into every religion, but it does mean you search for the truth with all of your heart.
In John 1 Nathanael is talking to Philip who says “can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael replies “come and see.” The wise men came and saw, the religious leaders stayed home and missed it, and in fact became Jesus’ enemies.
Wise Men Myths
The wise men were not present at the manger
Why? Jesus is spoken of as a “child” (different Greek word than in Luke 2), the men come to a “house” not a stable, Herod wants all babies under 2 years old to be killed.
They were not kings, they have no names, and we don’t know where they came from or how many there were.
Tradition says they came from Parthia, site of ancient Babylon. If so, they could have been wise men like Daniel encountered (Dan 2:12) which would have made them astronomers and dream interpreters. We assume there were three because of the gifts, but that is an assumption.
What is significant is the fact they came and the gifts they brought.
Israel’s own ruler (though he was only half Israeli) sought to kill the baby king, while foreign officials sought to worship him. When Solomon became king of Israel, Hiram, king of Tyre acknowledged Solomon’s place as king.
Gold—a gift for a king (Psalm 72:15 “…may the gold of Sheba be given him!”)
Frankincense—a gift for deity (Isaiah 60:6 “all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord” speaking of the future glory of Jerusalem as the home of the King of Kings)
Myrrh—a spice used in embalming. (John 19:39 Nicodemus brought myrrh and aloes to embalm Jesus)
So the gifts are for a king, who is God, who will die. Hmmm. I wonder who that could be? Jesus the Messiah, the king. The gifts would also have provided financially for this young family to go to Egypt and back.
13 – 15
There is a parallel here between God sending Jacob to Egypt and Joseph going to Egypt. Both times, God was protecting the line of the Messiah. The first time was to protect Israel from famine, the second was to protect from an evil murderer. There is also a parallel between Herod killing the babies of Bethlehem, and Pharaoh killing the babies of Israel. God’s rescue of Israel from Egypt was a foreshadowing of God’s rescue of Jesus from the hands of Herod. It is, of course, also a foreshadowing of Jesus rescuing us from slavery to sin.
The important thing is that God told Joseph (in a second dream) and he obeyed. Do we obey God’s Word just because it is His Word, or do we want to make logical sense out of it first? Sometimes God takes us away from trouble, other times He sends us headlong into it. There is no one way.
16 – 18
Isn’t it interesting how perhaps the very night after the wise men came and paid homage to Jesus that Joseph must escape?
History tells us that Herod was especially ruthless when it came to potential usurpers of his throne. Herod had three of his sons and a wife killed for just such a fear. If there were perhaps a thousand residents, that would mean about 20 male babies. The slaughter in Bethlehem likely took place only a couple of days after the wise men saw Herod, since it is only 5 miles from Jerusalem. Even before Jesus can proclaim the gospel, the enemy is trying to kill him. Satan no doubt inspired Herod to do this, as his further attempt to kill the Messiah (not understanding fully perhaps that dying was exactly what Jesus came to do).