Summary: The revelation of Christ’s first advent invoked interesting and diverse responses. The responses of the Magi, of King Herod, and of the Priests and teachers in Jerusalem are examined and contrasted. They are rather typical of varied responses to Christ to

Responding to the Christmas Message



Text: Matt 2

2:1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5"In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:

6"`But 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 be the shepherd of my people Israel.’"

7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

13When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."

14So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."

16When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18"A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."

19After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead."

21So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene." NIV

Can you imagine what it would be like to pick up your newspaper this morning and read about a ruler in Jerusalem slaughtering all the male babies 2 years old and younger in the town of Bethlehem last night? What a shocking atrocity that would be! Yet that was Herod’s response to the coming of Jesus. Suppose another article talked about spiritual leaders from Iraq coming to Jerusalem to find the Messiah. According to them, God had supernaturally revealed to them the Messiah’s coming. That approximates what’s going on in this passage.

It is a story full of surprises. First, we are surprised as to whom it is that is seeking out Jesus. And why are they seeking Him? So they can worship Him. Second, it is surprising that the appointed leader, the man in that day who considered himself King of the Jews,[1] is seeking Jesus for another reason: to kill Him. Third, it is surprising that those who should have shown the greatest interest in welcoming the Messiah wouldn’t travel 5 miles to check it out.[2] Such are the responses to the Christmas message on the first Christmas 2000 years ago.

This morning we want to look at these responses to the Christmas message. An understanding of these responses is just as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago. The message that the Messiah has come. The message that the Savior is here. People are still responding to that message.

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