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A Caravan of Magi | Matthew 2

The Magi acknowledges the divine and finds Jesus.
Bible Talk A Caravan of Magi

This week we dive into Matthew 2. Listen along to the episode here or on your favorite podcast app

[8:57] Jesus is born.  Matthew doesn’t give us lots of insight into the birth or the events after.  He does not mention the shepherds and their direction from an angel to go tell like Luke does.  Actually, Luke’s version of events is the nativity we are familiar with.  Matthew jumps right to the wise men and by the way, they were not at the manger.  The Magi, astrologers most likely, were from the east and saw a star that shone over Bethlehem when Christ was born.  We don’t exactly know where “east” is.  There is not a specific place mentioned.  Persia is as good a guess as any and I like it. 

[14:46] See, Persia would be Babylon.  Babylon was where the Israelites were in captivity.  Therefore, the Babylonians would have had some knowledge of the Jews and their beliefs.  God worked while they were in Babylon.  This is what the book of Daniel is about.  Such great stories in there.  We all know Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3 “the fiery furnace”).  In Daniel 2 King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that disturbed him so he did what a king would do at the time and called for his Magi, if you will.  They could not interpret the dream.  Daniel could.  He said that he was able to because “there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries” (Daniel 2:28).  Daniel was placed in charge of all the wise men.  This is of course telling it in a nutshell, but proof that the wise men of old knew a bit about the God of the Jews.  So, to me that means they had reason to be intrigued by the appearance of a star and believe it must be a sign for the Jews.  I think we can also assume that at some point along the way, obviously, decided…learned…told by God, that it was the long-awaited birth of their King.  There had to have been more than three guys on camels coming into Jerusalem.  Again, I am assuming, there was more of a caravan because people, verse 3 says all Jerusalem, knew they had come to worship the new king that had been born.  Don’t you imagine they were surprised that the folks in charge did not know what they were talking about.  King Herod called in the priests and asked them if they had any idea what the foreigners were talking about, asking “where the Christ was to be born?”  And they told him Bethlehem.  I’m sorry.  This seems so ho-hum from the priest and teachers of the law.  Just sharing this info as no big deal.  They did not send a delegation to check this out.  Seems like they should have?  Or is that just me?  

King Herod was interested, however.  He was a horrible human being.  He was known by his falsehoods and his cruelty.  He trusted no one, not even his own family.  He was all about his power.  He was only half Jewish.  His other half was Idumean.  Idumean is from Edom.  Edom is Esau.  Esau was the twin brother of Jacob.  Jacob is Israel.  Herod and Jesus is carnal and spiritual, or worldly and godly.  Esau and Jacob.  Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup.  The physical was more important to him.  Don’t you just love the little details?!?  I digress.  Herod told the Magi to sort this out and report back to him so that he too could pay his respects.  Luckily, they did not.  

[18:40] The Magi traveled on to Bethlehem.  In Matthew Henry’s commentary he says, “The birth of Christ was reported to the Jewish shepherds (Luke 2:8-20) by and angel and to Gentile philosophers by a star.  God spoke to both in their own language and in a way they were familiar with.” 

[20:15] This reminds me of Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.  When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. (Acts 2: 1-6)

See. How. God. Works. He tells us things and in ways that we can understand.  We do not always have to struggle and be confused by religious things or theology.  If you want to know about the LORD he will tell you in a way you will get.  

Now, the Magi found Jesus.  By this time, he was probably around 2.  Not in the manger.  See, not how we picture the nativity.  (I would love to have seen Mary and Joseph’s reaction to this parade showing up in Bethlehem.  Goodness, and the neighbors.) They worshipped and presented them with gold, incense, and myrrh.  Then they returned home, not swinging back by Jerusalem to give Herod a report.  

[24:47] Herod is ticked.  He calls for all baby boys in Bethlehem and the surrounding area 2 and under to be killed.  Probably dusted his hands and considers the King of the Jews handled.  Thankfully, Joseph was obedient and listened to an angel of the Lord when it appeared to him in a dream and told him to take Mary and her son to Egypt.  Here’s the thing, there were Jews in Egypt and the Magi had just given the new family means to get there.  God will provide.  Amen?  They stayed there until the death of Herod and headed back to the land of Israel after…you guessed it, an angel of the Lord visited Joseph in a dream.  Herod’s son, Archelaus, was ruling in the southern part of Judea so…an angel of the Lord warned Joseph that he needed to head to the district of Galilee.  They settled in Nazareth.

Thus, fulfilling another prophecy, “He will be called a Nazarene.”

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