Summary: It was only six miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.

Only Six Miles Christmas series 2013 #1

Matthew 2:1-6

1st Dec 2013

Shell Point Baptist Church


How long would it take to walk six miles?

• If you/good shape/walk/couple of hours.

• Terrain/relatively flat/easily cover six miles/afternoon.

• That’s not much of a hike.

• Wanted/walk/Jerusalem/Bethlehem/only six miles

• Start/morning/be there/early afternoon.

The land of Israel is tiny compared to the United States.

• Whole country/8500 square miles/roughly/size New Jersey

• Bit smaller than Vermont.

• One/most important events took place six miles/Jerusalem.

• 2000 yrs.ago there was not much there.

Bethlehem was indeed a “little town” as described in the familiar Christmas carol by Phillips Brooks.

• Well-known/birthplace/King David

• Town itself was home to perhaps 200 permanent residents.

• Bethlehem close/Jerusalem/various inns/guesthouses were full of pilgrims making their way to and from Jerusalem

• Stay/way to various ancestral hometowns to pay the census tax required by Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1-3).


It was only six miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.

• Just hold this thought in your mind.

• Jerusalem/Bethlehem/next-door neighbors

• Jerusalen/large city—Bethlehem/tiny hamlet

• Bethlehem in that day/place you stayed/way to the big city

• Spent/night/Bethlehem/next day/walked six miles/Jerusalem.

• Six miles. That’s not very far.

Against that backdrop we read Matthew’s account of the coming of the Magi: (Matthew 2:1-6).


So many questions come to mind when we read this:

• Who were the Magi? Where did they come from?

• How far did they journey? How many Magi came to Jerusalem?

• What was the “star” they saw in the east?

• How did they know what it meant? How did it lead them?

• Why did they come to worship the “king of the Jews"?

• Why was the whole city disturbed?


Focus/just one question the text doesn’t entirely answer:

• Why didn’t the Jewish leaders go to Bethlehem?

• It was so close. Only six miles away.

• If they knew/Messiah was to be born there

• Why didn’t they go/check it out for themselves?

The Magi knew so little, came so far, and gave so much.

The teachers/law knew so much, were so near, and did so little.

• It was such a short journey/Only six miles.


I’m preaching these words from Shell Point

• So I will state/matter/local terms.

• If Jesus came to Beaufort, would we go and see him?

If someone said Jesus was in Lobeco

• Would we stop what we were doing?

If Jesus showed up on Lady’s Island

• Would we go and greet him?

What if Jesus came to St.Helena/Hunting Island/Laural Bay

• Would we be too busy to go see him?


Think of all that the teachers/law knew about/coming/Messiah:

He would be:

• Born of the Seed of the woman……Genesis 3:15

• Descendant of Shem………..Genesis 9:26.

• Of the seed of Abraham………Genesis 12:1-3

• Descendant of Isaac……….Genesis 22:18.

• Descendant of Jacob……..Genesis 28:14

• Tribe of Judah….Genesis 49:10.

• “Son of David."……2 Samuel 7:11,12,16

• Born of a virgin……Isaiah 7:14.

• Born in Bethlehem……..Micah 5:2.

We can summarize in five simple statements what the Jewish scholars knew about the Messiah:

1. He will be a Jew.

2. He will come from the tribe of Judah.

3. He will be a descendant of David.

4. He will be born in Bethlehem.

5. He will be born of a virgin.


Who were these scribes and chief priests and teachers of the law that Herod consulted?

• Best and brightest minds of the day.

• Professional students/Torah of God,

• Studied OT day and night.

• Knew Word of God, loved it, revered it, learned it, debated it, studied it, and memorized it.

• Some memorized/first five books/Bible/Hebrew.

• Others memorized/Psalms/Hebrew.


If they knew the truth, why didn’t they go to Bethlehem?

• When Herod asked where/Christ was to be born

• Immediately/religious leaders knew the answer

• Bethlehem of Judea because/prophet Micah had foretold some 700 years earlier.

• They knew it by heart.

• They didn’t have to look it up.


Use/modern term, they didn’t have to use a lifeline or say,

• “Regis, let’s go 50/50 on that one.”

• I’m sure one of them must have smiled and said

• “I hope the king asks us a hard question next time."

• If they knew the truth, why didn’t they go to Bethlehem?

• Let me suggest three answers to that question.


1. Their knowledge made them intellectually lazy.

Did you know it’s possible to know too much?

• You can study so long, compare so many opinions

• read so many books/debate so many ideas

• You never get around to making a commitment to anything.

You are “ever learning but never able to acknowledge the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).

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