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MAtthew Chapter 2

Memory verses for this week:   Luke 12:42  And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? 

Introduction:  We continue our study this week on the book of Matthew.  In last weekís lesson, we reviewed the lineage of Joseph and discussed how that while this proved him to be of the tribe of Judah, he was not the father of Christ.  Jesus was born to Mary who was a virgin.   We discussed how his birth was according to the prophecy of the Old Testament.


I.  Visit of the Wise Men

Mat 2:1  Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Mat 2:2  Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

There is a lot of information in verse one.  It tells us the exact placed of Christís birth, who the king was who was reigning at the time, and that the wise men of the east came to Jerusalem.  By identifying the birth place as Bethlehem of Judea, it clearly distinguished it from the Bethlehem in Zebulon.

Josh 19:15  And Kattath, and Nahallal, and Shimron, and Idalah, and Bethlehem: twelve cities with their villages.

Josh 19:16  This is the inheritance of the children of Zebulun according to their families, these cities with their villages.

Bethlehem means the ďHouse of Bread.Ē  The wise men were possibly not wise in the worldís viewpoint, but they were wise in Godís sight.   Back then, a man who sought Jesus was considered a wise man.   Iíll say that is still true today.   These came seeking Jesus from a far away land.

Matthew Henry had this about the birth of Christ in his commentary.

It was a mark of humiliation put upon the Lord Jesus that, though he was the Desire of all nations, yet his coming into the world was little observed and taken notice of, his birth was obscure and unregarded: herein he emptied himself, and made himself of no reputation. If the Son of God must be brought into the world, one might justly expect that he should be received with all the ceremony possible, that crowns and sceptres should immediately have been laid at his feet, and that the high and mighty princes of the world should have been his humble servants; such a Messiah as this the Jews expected, but we see none of all this; he came into the world, and the world knew him not; nay, he came to his own, and his own received him not; for having undertaken to make satisfaction to his Father for the wrong done him in his honour by the sin of man, he did it by denying himself in, and despoiling himself of, the honours undoubtedly due to an incarnate Deity; yet, as afterward, so in his birth, some rays of glory darted forth in the midst of the greatest instances of his abasement. Though there was the hiding of his power, yet he had horns coming out of his hand (Hab. 3:4) enough to condemn the world, and the Jews especially, for their stupidity.

The first who took notice of Christ after his birth were the shepherds (Lu. 2:15, etc.), who saw and heard glorious things concerning him, and made them known abroad, to the amazement of all that heard them. [i]        

God revealed to the wise men that Jesus was to be the King of the Jews.  This was the title placed over his cross when he died there on Mt. Calvary.

John 19:19  And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

John 19:20  This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.

John 19:21  Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.

John 19:22  Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.

God had promised Israel a king and the Jews were looking for one to come and over throw the Romans and take the throne and rule.   This was not the way Christ came the first time, but when he comes this second time, He will take the throne of David and rule.   It says the wise men came to worship and they saw His star in the East.

Rev 22:16  I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.                                              

Mat 2:3  When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Mat 2:4  And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 

The announcement that the King of the Jews had been born troubled Herod.  He feared that he would perhaps lose his throne.  It says it also troubled all of Jerusalem.  Herod then inquires where Jesus should be born.   

Mat 2:5  And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

Mat 2:6  And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Herod brings in the religious leaders and scribes who were the writers and interpreters of the scriptures.   So where did they go to find the answer?   The word of God was the source they turned to.   When you and I need answers, we need to turn to the bible also.  It contains answers for the problems we face each day.   They find that the answer lay in the book of Micah as the prophet spoke of the birth place of Christ.  Out of Judah was to come a governor to rule the people of God.   And as I said earlier, one day Christ will return to reign on the throne of David.

Mat 2:7  Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

Mat 2:8  And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

We see Herod then asks the wise men about what time the star had appeared.  He pretended to want to come to worship Christ, but in his mind, he intended to destroy Christ.  He wanted to know the exact age of Jesus, so he could have all the young male children near his age put to death.  Herod never intended to come and worship Jesus.

Mat 2:9  When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

Mat 2:10  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

Mat 2:11  And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

Mat 2:12  And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

The star guided them from the east to where Jesus was at that time.   Today, He is still a guiding star to all who will seek after him.  They rejoiced when they come to the place where the young child was.  It says the wise men present gifts to Jesus.  (gold, frankincense, and myrrh.)   After that, they were warned of God not to return to Herod.

I wonder why we think there were 3 wise men.  All the Christmas cards show it that way, but nothing in scripture mentions there being three men.   Also, they show them bringing the gifts to the manger.  J. Vernon McGee points out that it was a long journey for these wise men, and it may have taken close to a year.  

ďBehold there came three wise men from the east to Jerusalem.Ē Is that what your Bible says? You say, ďNo, youíve inserted the number three.Ē Well, isnít that what youíve been taught by your Christmas cards? I think a great many people know more about the Christmas story from Christmas cards than from the Bible, and therefore they have many inaccurate impressions. Iíll attempt to correct several of them in this chapter.

First, you will notice that the record doesnít tell us there were three wise men. I donít know how many there were, but I doubt whether three wise men would have disturbed Herod or have excited Jerusalem. I do believe that three hundred men would have done so. These wise men who came from the East evidently came from different areas. They had been studying the stars, and when this new star appeared, they joined forces and came to Jerusalem. I donít know how many there were, but Iím almost sure it wasnít three, and I believe three hundred would be more nearly true. But, please, donít say that I said there were three hundred!

I am going to make a statement now and will try to prove it later: The star had appeared in the night sky sometime before the wise men appeared in Jerusalem. Remember that they made the trip by camelónot by jet plane. It is a long, hard trip by camel! I am of the opinion that they didnít arrive in Jerusalem until at least a year after the appearance of the star. This wasnít just a little Christmas celebration for them. As they traveled the long, weary miles, they had been hanging on to the hope of seeing Him and presenting their gifts to Him.   [ii]

I donít want you to think Iím teaching there were 300 wise menÖ but I do think it is interesting how we have always Ďthoughtí there were only three.  Sometimes we need to study the word of God and be sure that what we perceive and believe aligns with scripture.

II.  The Flight into Egypt

Mat 2:13  And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

Mat 2:14  When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

Mat 2:15  And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

Israel as a nation spent a lot of time in Egypt.  While in bondage, they were there 430 years.  We know Abraham went down into Egypt.   God directs Joseph to take the child and go into Egypt.  Note the obedience of Joseph.  No arguing, just gets up and does as God tells him to do.   We should all be so faithful.   God tells Joseph that Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.  Joseph going into Egypt was a fulfillment of prophecy.

Hosea 11:1  When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

III.   The Slaughter of the Innocents

Mat 2:16  Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

Mat 2:17  Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,

Mat 2:18  In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Herod was a very wicked king.   It is amazing what wicked men will do to protect their little kingdoms in this world.  He has all children put to death from 2 years of age and under.  His thinking was that Christ might be as old as 2 years of age at this time.   This was a fulfillment of prophecy from Jeremiah 31:15.

Jer 31:15  Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

Rachelís children are destroyed by the one who calls himself the king of Israel.  Rachel is introduced as the mother of Bethlehem lamenting over their children.

Albert Barnes made this comment about verse 18.

Title:   Barnes Notes on the New Testament

Author:   Barnes, Albert

In Rama was there a voice heardóRama was a small town in the tribe of Benjamin. Rachel was the mother of Benjamin, and was buried near to Bethlehem, Gen. 35:16-19. Rama was about 6 miles northwest of Jerusalem, near
Bethel, and was some 10 or 12 miles from Bethlehem. The name Rama signifies an eminence, and was given to the town because it was situated on a hill. Rama is
commonly supposed to be the same as the Arimarthea of the New Testament the place where Joseph lived who begged the body of Jesus. See Matt. 27:57. This is
also the same place in which Samuel was born, where he resided, died. and was buried, and where he anointed Saul as king.


IV.  The Return from Egypt to Nazareth

Mat 2:19  But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

Mat 2:20  Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.

The angel of the Lord knew what Herod intended to do and knew that Herod was dead.  So he tells Joseph to arise and go back to the nation of Israel.   I am impressed with how Joseph showed to be a man of faith.  He didnít seem to question the guiding of the Lord, he simply listened to Godís directions, and obeyed.  I wonder how many other Christians there would be today if all of Godís people obeyed the Lordís voice each day.   Today we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, and he directs our paths and guides us to do the perfect will of the Lord.

Mat 2:21  And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

Mat 2:22  But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

Mat 2:23  And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

Joseph takes his family and goes back into Israel through Galilee.   He dwells in the city of Nazareth, again not by chance.  This was another fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.  Jesus was called a Nazarene, although this does not mean he was a Nazarite.  There were specific rules involving a Nazarite that we donít have a record about concerning Christ.  It meant that Jesus was a citizen of this city.

Isa 11:1  And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

Isa 11:2  And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;

Isa 11:3  And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:

Isa 11:4  But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

Isa 11:5  And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.



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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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[i]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henryís Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.

[ii]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.