Summary: God wants us to hear his voice and heed what we hear. Matthew 2 provides good examples of those who listened and one who didnâ€™t.
Matthew 2 tells the story of JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ birth and early childhood. Jesus is in danger as soon as he comes into this world. Herod wants to kill him, later the Jewish leaders will pick up where Herod left off and eventually succeed in having Jesus killed. Jesus has entered enemy territory as the Son of God in the midst of sinful people, sinful people that he came to save from their sins. Jesus is Emanuel, God with us, but most people do not want God with us. Why? No one can control him! In fact, he comes here and takes control! He comes with authority in his words and works. Jesus is not like other religious leaders that quote other authorities and take pride in themselves and their positions of religious leadership, no! Jesus enters the world as a lowly baby born into a lowly family and he accepts the lowly position of servant, but he is anything but weak. His words are not quotes of scholarly human authorities, he speaks with Godâ€™s authority. His lowliness does not mask his majesty and Messianic authority. Jesus is the very essence of the King of Israel. You have heard that it was said, but I say to you...Â Jesus may be lowly, but he is also holy, the Holy Savior of the world. He is the servant/King who is above all; but he is not above humbling himself and coming to earth to walk among us, to teach us about walking with Godâ€™s rule in our lives, and to give himself as our saving sacrifice. Matthew unfolds the ministry of Jesus. But there are certain preliminaries that Matthew lays out for us up front, the first of which we saw last week in the genealogy. Jesus comes from the right family line: Son of Abraham, son of David, son of man and Son of God. Jesus has the right connections. Second, as we will see in todayâ€™s lesson, Jesus was announced by three signs: a unique star in the heavens, dreams to Joseph and the Magi, and most of all biblical prophets. These three will help us form our lesson from this chapter.
Iâ€™m calling this lesson: Listening to God, because of the three ways God communicated in Matthew chapter two. Before we get into these three, let me note one other thing:
It is interesting what Matthew leaves out. Matthew doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t tell us about the angels that announced JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ birth to the shepherds. He doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t talk about a manger or the angelic visitations to Zechariah and Mary by the angel, Gabriel. Matthew doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t record the songs of Elizabeth and Mary and Zechariah and the angels. Those are in Luke and they are very awesome and beautiful, feminine even. MatthewÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s whole story is much more regal, more masculine. Danger, death, and villainy are in MatthewÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s account.
Ok, back to the point of listening to God. First, God speaks through the stars. Psalm 19 tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God. Here in Matthew 2 the heavens also declared the coming of GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Son.
Chapter 2 of Matthew opens with wise men from the east that come to Jerusalem seeking a king. They have seen his star and have come to worship this heavenly King. I noted as I studied this chapter that the word star occurs four times in this chapter. Look at verses 2, 7, 9 & 10. The heavens declare Jesus is coming. It just so happens that Israel already has a king named Herod, and he is viciously protective of his power and position. He has killed a wife and sons whom he considered as threats to his throne. Herod is no one to mess with. The timing and placement for JesusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ birth came under a heavenly sign that spoke of a heavenly king who would be born. God used this star to call these wise men to meet Emanuel, the heavenly King of kings. Herod is not listening to God, he is only threatened by this message and attempts to wipe out the child God has announced through the star.
You know what? Let me just cut the chase and give you the nuts and bolts of this and make the applications.
First, four times Matthew talks about the star that led the wise men to Jesus. (2,7,9,10)
Second, four times Matthew talks about dreams that guided Joseph and the wise men to rescue Jesus from danger. (12, 13, 19, 22)
Third, four times Matthew quotes the prophets to point out that what is happening, even the tragic deaths of the children of Bethlehem, is fulfillment of the scriptures. God has already told us these things would happen. (5-6, 15, 17-18, 23)
What is going on with all these groups of four? I find that interesting. God is getting his message out in various ways to those who will hear him.