Matthew 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,
Probably from that Assyria which is joined with Israel and Egypt in the
remarkable prophecy in Isa 19:24-25 : "In that day shall Israel be the
third with Egypt and with Assyria even a blessing in the midst of the
land: Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my
people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.
"Behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem," —
Matthew 2:2-3. 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. When Herod
the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem
He was troubled about the kingship which he had no right to possess,
for he thought that, if the "King of the Jews" was really coming, he
would be dethroned. And all Jerusalem was troubled with him, for the
people over whom he reigned never knew what mischief he might do when
once his suspicions were excited, for he was a cruel, blood-thirsty
Matthew 2:4-6. 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 prince of Juda: for out of thee shall come a
Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
It was something to get a distinct declaration from the Jewish rulers
that the Christ was to be born at Bethlehem, for Jesus was born there.
Afterwards, they called him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Nazareth was the
place where he was brought up, but Bethlehem was the place of his
birth, in fulfillment of the prophecy given hundreds of years before
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.
Pretty "worship" was that which he would render to the infant King! He
intended to murder him, and, in like manner, how often, under the
pretense of worshipping Christ, has the very truth of Christ been
murdered. Men invent new sacraments, new doctrines, new forms and
Romanies, all avowedly for the edification of the Church and for the
glory of Jesus; but really that they may stab at the very heart of
God’s gospel, and put to death the living truth.
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.
Yet it was not a wandering star, nor a shooting star; but a traveling star such as they had never seen before.
Matthew 2:10-12. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great
joy. 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
Very providentially, the magi had brought the gold with which Joseph
would be able to pay the expenses incurred in journeying to the land of
Egypt, and in supporting his family there till he could return to his
home and his business. God always takes care of his own children; and
specially did he provide for his firstborn and only-begotten Son.
Matthew 2:13-14. 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
How obedient Joseph was! He was a man of a docile spirit, who willingly
did as God bade him. He has, perhaps, never had his character
sufficiently well set forth in the Church of God, for he was eminently
honoured by being the guardian of the young child and his mother; and
he discharged his duty with singular humility and gentleness.
Matthew 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.
Which was true first of Israel, the nation, as God’s ion, and now again
true of Jesus, the great Son of God. It is true also of all sons of
God; we have to be called out of Egypt. By the blood of the Paschal
Lamb we too are saved, and we are brought out of Egypt with a high hand
and an outstretched arm, in the day when God delivers us from our sin.
Matthew 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 enquired of
the wise men.
That was the light he put upon it: "that he was mocked of the wise
men." He was exceeding wroth, and when he was wroth, his anger was
terrible. Augustus said of him that it would be better to be Herod’s
sow than Herod’s son, which was true, for he would not kill a sow, as
he held to the Jewish faith. He did not kill swine, but he would not
mind killing anybody in his passion: "He 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." He took a wide range
in order, so he thought, to make quite sure that he should kill the
Child King whom he especially hated.
Matthew 2:17-18. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the
prophet, slaying, 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.
It must have been a very sorrowful day in Bethlehem; you can imagine
the grief that filled the hearts of the mothers there. There is Herod,
who acts the hypocrite, and tries to slay Christ at the first, and
there is Judas at the end, acts the hypocrite, too, and betrays his
Lord. Thus is the life of Christ begun and ended in sorrow.
Matthew 2:19-22. 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:
Archelaus was another chip off the old block, and a chip of very hard
wood, too, equally cruel, and without his father’s greatness of mind.
He had all Herod’s vices without his mental vigor.
Matthew 2:22. Notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
He did not follow his own judgment. This man, thoroughly a servant of
God, waits for orders; he has his fears, but he will not even act upon
them, but he waits till he is warned of God in a dream, and then he
turns aside into the parts of Galilee.
Matthew 2:23. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth:
Galilee was despised, but Nazareth was thought to be the worst part of
Galilee. Netzar is a word in the Hebrew signifying a sprout or branch,
and Nazareth apparently comes from the same root.
Matthew 2:23. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
This is the name commonly given to our Lord in the Old Testament. "And
there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch
shall grow out of his roots." Jesus was the sprout, or the shoot out of
the withered stem of Jesse. When the dynasty of David was like the tree
cut down, and only the stem of it left there sprang up out of it the
Netzar, the Nazarene; so he is found dwelling in a city that is called
by that name, and he also is called a Nazarene. And the name clings to
him to this day, there are those who will call him by no name but "the
Nazarene." There was one who threatened to crush the Nazarene, but when
he was dying he had to cry, "O Nazarene, thou hast triumphed;" and the
Nazarene will always do so. He shall be crowned King of kings and Lord
of lords, and he shall reign for ever and ever. Hallelujah!