Summary: The story of the Wise Men of Christmas shows the sharp contrast of two kings:King Jesus and King Herod. It also shows the sharp contrast of two Kingdoms.
The Contrast of Two Kings of Christmas
I. King Herod WAS:
A. preoccupied with power, prestige and possessions
B. preoccupied with paranoia and self-preservation.
II. King Jesus IS still:
A. filled with promise.
B. filled with peace and paternal glory: Nazareth: “the guarded one”
C. reigning as King.
III. Wise Men and Women still
A. seek Jesus.
B. become “undone” in Jesus’ presence.
C. worship Jesus.
D. present their gifts and their lives.
Matthew 2 is actually a postlude to the HOLY DAY of Christmas, which we celebrate as Christ’s birthday, and includes the visit of the “MAGI” or Wisemen. If you read the story of the “Magi Visit”, it doesn’t say that they went to Bethlehem, as a matter of fact, Jesus was probably not IN Bethlehem.
Remember, Joseph and Mary had come from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register, where Jesus was born. Eight days later, he and Mary took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to be presented and witnessed by Simeon and Anna and then they returned to Nazareth. This is what happened, probably a year later in Matthew 2:
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east (Probably princes or wise men from the area of Babylon and traveled 900-1,000 miles, a 6 month journey) came to Jerusalem and 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." 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.”
4 “When 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.' "Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He 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."
9 “After 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.”
(They probably followed the star all the way to Nazareth (68 miles from Jerusalem) according to Luke 2:39, “When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth.”)
10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On 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. (WORSHIP)
Matthew 2:13: “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."
19 “After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and 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." 21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But 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, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."