Summary: This sermon highlights the anger of Herod against King Jesus. The anger against King Jesus is seen in his trip to Egypt.
Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent. For this season of Advent I am preaching a series of sermons titled, “The Advent of the King,” which is based on Matthew’s Gospel chapters 1 and 2.
The first week we examined “The Ancestry of the King” in Matthew 1:1-17, and learned about the human ancestry of Jesus.
The second week we examined “The Arrival of the King” in Matthew 1:18-25, and learned about the divine ancestry of Jesus.
The third week we examined “The Adoration of the King” in Matthew 2:1-12, and learned about different responses to Jesus.
13 When 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.”
14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where 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.”
16 When 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. 17 Then 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.” (Matthew 2:13-18 (NIV)
The apostle Matthew wrote his Gospel in order to show that Jesus really was the long-expected Messiah, who was born king of the Jews.
Since Matthew was writing for a largely Jewish audience, his book is filled with facts that would interest them. John MacArthur points out in his commentary on Matthew that Matthew gives several evidences of Jesus of Nazareth’s legitimate, unique, and absolute royal right to the throne of David.
In Matthew 1 we see the evidence of Jesus’ royal genealogy. Jesus was descended from King David and was heir to his throne.
The next evidence, also in Matthew 1, was of Jesus’ supernatural conception and virgin birth. Jesus’ deity was established by virtue of his being supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit.
The third evidence in Matthew 2 is the testimony of the Magi, who came to worship Jesus and give gifts to “the one who has been born king of the Jews” (2:2). The Magi traveled a great distance to recognize and honor a king who was largely rejected by his own people.
The next evidence of Jesus’ kingship is shown in a negative way through the antagonism and hatred of Herod. Herod’s devious scheme to discover and destroy this unknown baby shows his fear that the Magi’s declaration about the child could be correct, and gives unintended testimony to Jesus’ true royalty. Herod knew that he himself was a usurper to the throne on which he sat only by virtue of Rome—who ruled Judah only by the “right” of military force. Herod was an Edomite, not a Jew, and had no legitimate claim to be the Jew’s king. He therefore feared and hated even the suggestion of a rival claimant. But even the hatred of the false king gave indirect testimony to the identity of the true king.
The fifth evidence of Christ’s kingship given in Matthew 2 is presented through four fulfilled messianic prophecies. Some three hundred and thirty Old Testament predictions concern Jesus Christ. Matthew highlights about fifty prophecies throughout his Gospel. In Matthew 2 he points out four of those prophecies that were fulfilled during Jesus’ infancy. There is no reasonable possibility that even those four—much less all three hundred and thirty—could have been fulfilled accidentally in the life of a single individual. That fact in itself is overwhelming evidence of God’s sovereign control of history and of the utter reliability of his Word.
Matthew uses the four prophecies as a literary framework around which he presents the events recorded in Matthew 2. Each of the predictions is directly related to a geographical location closely related to Jesus’ birth and early childhood. The four locations are Bethlehem, Egypt, Ramah, and Nazareth.
The first of the four Old Testament passages around which Matthew presents the events of chapter 2 is that of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem (2:6; cf. Micah 5:2), which we looked at last week in relation to the visit of the Magi. The other three are given in the rest of chapter 2. This morning we will look at the trip to Egypt and the retaliation during the trip at Ramah. And then tonight we will look at Jesus’ return to Nazareth.