Summary: The King of Eternity came into this world and the world had no idea what had taken place. Politicians, Priests, and the Public missed one of the greatest miracles ever for they weren’t looking for Him. Are we any different?


Matthew 2:1-18

Introduction: When we consider the events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ, we quite often forget the obscurity in which the events took place. The appearance of the wise men and the reaction of their message reveal the depth of that obscurity. The King of Eternity came into this world and the world had no idea what had taken place. Politicians, Priests, and the Public missed one of the greatest miracles ever for they weren’t looking for Him. Are we any different?

I. The Atmosphere at the Time of Christ’s First Advent

A. The political atmosphere at the time of Christ

1. Roman rule permeated first century Jewish experience, and most of its influence was negative if not oppressive.

2. Herod was the ruling tetrarch of Jerusalem

3. Herod ingratiated himself with Rome when Cassius came to Syria following the assassination of Julius Caesar. Herod did not shy away at bringing Cassius the taxes Rome demanded from Judaea, although other areas resisted, for which reason he was commended and others punished.

4. The reaction to the demands of the Roman rulers by Jews was fear and appeasement. Joseph and Mary comply with the requirement to travel to Bethlehem for the census.

5. Luke 2:1-5 “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

6. Herod was ruthless, manipulative, deceptive and jealous of his power.

7. Matthew’s gospel points this fact out as he tells of the Flight into Egypt, made necessary by Herod’s killing of Jewish male babies.

8. Matthew 2:16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.

9. Summing up the political scene was power, greed, oppressive taxation, and cruelty.

10. Politicians were not concerned about religious or moral matters. There was no room for God in the political arena. They were not looking for the coming of the Son of God.

B. The religious atmosphere at the time of Christ’s birth.

1. There were the Scribes and the Pharisees on one hand and the Sadducees on the other in mutual antagonism striving for dominance of the national religion of Israel.

2. Another sect the Essenes, maintaining rigid austerity and inflexible as a quasi fundamentalism, stood in inflexible opposition to the other two groups. The state of religion for most had fallen into formalism, legalism, and externalization of piety.

3. The conservatives, the Pharisees and Scribes had made faith a list of dos and don’ts

4. Concerning them Christ said in:

Mark 7: 8-9, 13 "For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men – the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do." He said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of God that you may keep your tradition... making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do."

5. The liberals – the Sadducees had reject the possibility of the miraculous not believing in the resurrection.

6. Both groups stood firmly against the evangelists of their day and their message.

7. Like the politician the religious world was concerned with greed, power, and their own comforts. – They were not looking for the birth of the Messiah, the King of Kings, and the Savior of the world.

8. Israel was spiritually bankrupt. It was a time of external religiosity, pharisaic letterism and ritualism, and sadducian unbelief. Like much of America today, Israel was caught up with materialism, with human good deeds, and with ritual. There was a form of godliness, but they denied the power thereof. They were practical atheists—living as though God were dead or as though He were non-existent. - copied

C. The social atmosphere at time of Christ’s birth

1. Luke 2:7 “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

2. The average person had heard the stories of the coming Messiah but after centuries of hearing these promises they had become dull and viewed much of it as a “myth” at worst or “not in my lifetime at best”.

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