May 30, 2019
In this episode, Brother Jonathan continues going through the
book of Matthew.
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- When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
- You can see why Herod was troubled. Here were these very
notable and influential men coming and asking, in essence, where
the real king of the Jews was.
- Herod the Great was a very jealous man who even killed several
of his own sons. Before his death he gathered some prominent Jewish
men and put them in prison and ordered them to be put to death
after he died so that there would be weeping in Jerusalem. It was
an order that was not obeyed.
- And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of
the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be
born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it
is written by the prophet, 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.
- It is interesting to me that the Magi, wise men, did not know
where the Messiah would be born. They knew enough of prophecy to
know that He would be born, that He would be King of the JEWS, and
that a star would be associated with His birth. It’s interesting to
me that they didn’t know where He would be born because Micah the
prophet tells us.
- The scribes knew this passage and told Herod and them. It was
written in Micah 5:2:
- “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the
thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me
that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of
old, from everlasting.”
- Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired
of them diligently what time the star appeared. 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.
- Herod’s inquiry into the time the star appeared would allow
Herod to estimate the age of the child. This enables him to know
which children to kill. Herod pretends to want to worship the new
King also and sends the wise men on their way.
- There is contrast going on here by Matthew that seems to be
- The Jewish (self-proclaimed) “king” wants to kill Jesus, the
- The religious leaders know where the Messiah is to be born, but
weren’t aware of His arrival like the Magi, and DID NOT join the
Magi to go worship Him.
- It was pagan Gentiles who were notified, searched for, and
worshipped the Jewish Messiah.
- 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. When they saw the star, they
rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
- It’s clear that the star had disappeared, maybe not long after
they had initially seen it. Now that they were approaching
Bethlehem it reappeared to guide to the exact place where Jesus
was. The wise men are psyched and rejoicing because it was God
Himself who was directing them.
- This star could only have been something supernatural. This
behavior itself shows us. It was not a natural object.
- Bethlehem was actually only 6 miles from where Herod’s palace
was in Jerusalem. You can walk that in less than two hours. The
religious leaders didn’t come. On a clear night they say that you
could’ve SEEN Bethlehem from Herod’s palace. That’s how close it
- 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. And being warned of God
in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into
their own country another way.”
- So we notice that it was a house and not a stable and manger.
Enough time had elapsed for Joseph to find residence. Jesus
wouldn’t have been a newborn at this time.
- Gold, frankincense, and myrrh were standard Eastern gifts. Some
have suggested some typology, or OT pictures, here.
- Their falling down and worshipping was more than Jews would’ve
allowed for a mortal ruler, possibly more than the Persians
would’ve commonly thought also. This already implies divinity being
recognized in Jesus.
- The fact that the Magi had to be warned by God suggests that
they were a little naïve about Herod. At the very least, they
certainly didn’t know his character.
- “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. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by
night, and departed into Egypt: 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.” (Mat
- “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
enquired of the wise men.” (Mat 2:16)
- Herod finds out that the wise men, the magi, are not going to
come tell him where the infant Messiah is. He’s furious and sends
soldiers to kill every child two years old and under. This would be
because of his asking the wise men when they saw the star.
- “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the
prophet, saying, 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.” (Mat 2:17-18)
- Matthew references Jeremiah 31:15. Rachel, the beloved wife of
the patriarch Jacob, was buried in Bethlehem. Ramah was six miles
to the north of Jerusalem and Bethlehem was six miles to the south
of it. When the Babylonians came through and destroyed Jerusalem,
they lead the Jewish exiles out on a road that went through Ramah.
Some Jewish rabbis actually talked about Rachel weeping for the
exiles that were led to captivity. Matthew kind of applies some
Jewish interpretive method here, called gezerah shewah, to say that
as Rachel wept over the Jewish exiles she now weeps over this
slaughter that happens much closer. But, Jeremiah also goes on to
ascribe hope to the situation which culminates in the new
- “But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord
appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 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. And he arose,
and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of
Israel. 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: 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.” (Mat 2:19-23)
- The Lord, in His wisdom, guides Joseph to settle in Nazareth. A
very obscure place. It was a conservative, politically
insignificant town. This would allow Jesus to grow up relatively
- The name “Nazarene” has been much argued about. Some people try
to say that it was a typological reference to Samson, but that
appears strained and unlikely. The best answer is that Matthew is
using a play on words. This was common in Jewish interpretation and
application of scriptures at times. The Hebrew word “nazir” means
“holy to God”. An appropriate place and application to the place
where the Messiah grew up.