Matthew Chapter 2:1-12


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

Our Lord was born in Bethlehem, an inconsiderable village of Judaea. Its name, however, is significant; it means, "the house of bread." Truly Bethlehem has become, in a spiritual sense, the house of bread to all who feed on Christ. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, —

Matthew 2:2. Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?

There was another king, of whom we have just read: "Herod the king," but he was an Idumean, an Edomite. He had no right to the throne; but here is born the true heir to the throne of David, and the Magi from the east have come to ask for him.

Matthew 2:2-3. For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

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

Tidings of the arrival of these strangers in the Jewish capital, asking for the new-born King, would be sure to spread rapidly. The news soon reached the palace; and Herod, one of the most suspicious and cruel of tyrants, and therefore the most cowardly of men, "was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him."

Matthew 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.

They could tell him if they wished to do so, for they were deeply versed in the Scriptures. The Scribes copied the Sacred Writings. The Pharisees had counted the very letters of the Word, they could tell which was the middle letter of the Old Testament. They were great at the letter; but, alas, they had missed the spirit! Men may know a great deal about the Bible, and yet really know nothing of it. The husks of Scripture yield small profit; we need to come to the kernel, the real corn, the spiritual meaning of the Inspired Word.

Matthew 2:5-7. 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. Then King Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

He half suspected that he should not see them again, so he determined to get all the information he possibly could out of them.

Matthew 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.

It was like his deep, cunning spirit to try to find out where the child was, that he might kill him. He looked upon him as a rival, as one who might rob him of his throne, so he would put him to death if he could; and, meanwhile, he would pretend that he wanted to worship him.

Matthew 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.

It was probably not a star in the sense in which we use the word: that is a planet, or a fixed star; but a meteoric brightness, which moved in the sky, and so guided the wise men. They do not appear to have seen its light after they set out on their journey; it directed them to the region of Judaea so they came to the capital city, Jerusalem. When they departed from Herod, the star appeared again, and guided them to the little town of Bethlehem, where they found the Christ. God may sometimes send us stars, bright lights of joy, to guide us on our way; he may also take them away again, and then we must walk by faith. When they reappear, we shall be glad to have them once more, as the wise men were.

Matthew 2:10-11. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house,

For it would seem that the mother and child had moved out of the stable into a house. The town was, perhaps, not now quite so crowded, and there was more room for Mary and her blessed baby: "When they were come into the house," —

Matthew 2:11. 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.

These were the products of their country, such as they would give to princes. Such treasures must have been of great use to Mary and Joseph to help them take care of the wondrous child who had been entrusted to their charge.

Matthew 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.

I remember a long disquisition, by a learned man, to show that we may sometimes break our promise, if, upon further consideration, we find we did wrong in making it, saying that these wise men, though they had promised to go and tell Herod all about the young child, did not do so when warned of God by a dream. After reading his very ingenious dissertation, I turned to the text, and there discovered that the wise men never made any promise of the kind; so that it was a sermon on a non-existent text. They never agreed to return; Herod told them to do so, which is one thing; they did not promise to do so, that would have been quite another thing. They broke no promise, and hence needed no excuse. They were in supernatural communication with God, he had guided them by a star, and now he speaks to them in a dream, and bids them go back to their own country another way. May we all be under like unerring guidance!

Amen.


Matthew Chapter 2:1-12


Matthew 2:1-2. 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, 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.

Observe here that when the Son of God was born into the world, it was in a very lowly village, the village of Bethlehem. Very naturally, the wise men supposed that "the King of the Jews" would be born in the palace, in the metropolis of the country, at Jerusalem; but it pleased the Lord that everything about Christ’s birth should have the stamp of lowliness, that the poorest and humblest of men might understand. that Christ took not upon him the nature of princes, but the nature of men, not of the great ones of the earth, but of our common humanity. Hence Jesus was born of a lowly virgin, and was but roughly cradled in a manger, and the village chosen as the place of his birth was Bethlehem, well-named the "house of bread", for it is there that the Bread of our souls is found. The holy child Jesus was born "in the days of Herod the king." The last spark of sovereignty was just dying out. Herod, an alien, held the kingdom under the Roman Empire. Did not old Jacob’s prophecy say, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come"? Therefore is it expressly mentioned that Jesus was born "in the days of Herod the king." We must also remember that, although our Lord’s birth is full of every circumstance of humiliation, it has a wondrous glory about it. The Magi, probably from Persia, "wise men", philosophers and theologians, heard in far-off lands of his fame; and a star led them to his feet: "There came wise men from the east." They supposed that the birth of Christ would be well known among the Jews, and be a common theme of conversation; so, when they reached Jerusalem, they enquired, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" Ah, when the heart is awakened to the love of Christ, it often dreams that everybody else feels an equal interest in him; but it is not so!

The world is dead and cold to Christ; and men look astonished when we ask the question, "Where is he? We have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him." These wise men were not Unitarians, who disbelieved the deity of Christ. It has been said by some that they only meant that they were come to pay him the homage of a king. Then, why did they not worship Herod, and why did Herod say that he wished to worship him? It will not do, the thought is not to be endured for a single moment. The magi believed that he who was born King of the Jews was more than a human being, and they had come to worship him.

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

The wise men brought the best news that ever was told, and yet it troubled people. Does the gospel trouble you, my friend? Then I am afraid you must be of Herod’s kith and kin. It is an ill sign of a man’s heart when that which is for the good of all men becomes a trouble to him. It is an ill stomach that turns good meat to poison. I suppose "all Jerusalem" was troubled with Herod because they knew that, whenever this gloomy tyrant had a fit upon him, he was sure to draw blood somewhere; therefore they were troubled with him.

Matthew 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.

Think of this vile wretch taking to studying his Bible. Yet there are some who do the like still. Reckoning that gain is godliness and therefore turning godliness into gain for sinister motives, they would be religious, and wish to be instructed in the truths of the Bible. Such was Herod; so he gathered all the chief priests and scribes together, and demanded of them where Christ should be born.

Matthew 2:5-6. 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.

Now, you see, what Herod did with an ill design was overruled for good, for thus we know on the highest authority that Christ was born at Bethlehem; the chief priests and scribes, great students of the law, when they were assembled in the presence of Herod, declared that, according to prophecy, Christ was to be born in Bethlehem.

Matthew 2:7-8. 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.

Covering his bloody design with the pretense of reverence. There is never a worse sin in the world than that which a man covers over with the cloak of religion; let us ever beware of falling into this evil.

Matthew 2:9-10. 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.

You see, the light of the star was taken from them for a time, just as sometimes the delightful presence of God is withdrawn from his people. Then, beloved, you walk by faith alone, and not by sight, as these men did; but oh! when the light comes back again, when, after hearing all the chatter of false priests and scribes, and all the talk of Herod the great one, they see the star again, how glad they are! When God sends to his people clear shinings after rain, the brightness of his presence after a time of gloom, then is it with them as it was with the wise men, "they rejoiced with exceeding great joy."

Matthew 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:

The old Reformers used to say, "Here is a bone that sticks in the throat of the Romanists, and they can neither get it up nor down, for it does not say, They saw Mary and the young child, the young child is put first, they came to see him; and it does not say that ‘they fell down and worshipped them.’" If ever there was an opportunity for Mariolatry, surely this was the one, when the child was as yet newly-born, and depended so much upon his mother. Why did not the magi say, "Ave Maria!" and commence at once their Mariolatry? Ay, but these were wise men; they were not priests from Rome, else might they have done it.

Matthew 2:11. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

The best they had, presents fit for a King; offered as the tribute of the country from which they came, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh being found in the ecast. It is well to bring to Christ the best we have, and the boat of the best: "gold, and frankincense, and myrrh."

Matthew 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.




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