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A star, some wise men, and the voice of God

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Read Matthew 2

Let’s start with a star and some wise men from the east. How far east?

Arabia, Persia, India or beyond?

In any case, they had seen a star and followed it to the place where Jesus was living. We are told that this occurred after Jesus was born. The magi did not arrive at a manger but at the home of Joseph and Mary.

Their purpose, however, was clear. They came to worship the King of the Jews.

They brought gifts and bowed down before Jesus. The gifts were gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Gold was a gift for any occasion. Frankincense was incense for royalty. And myrrh was associated with burial preparation.

Three gifts are noted so we sing about three kings, but we don’t know the number from the gospel. What we do know is that the kings or the wise men came to worship this very young king who was living in a house, not a palace, but still a step up from being born in a barn.

Luke brings in the shepherds watching their flocks nearby, but Matthew brings in some high ranking men from afar.

How do these wise men from far away know that they will find a king at the end of their journey?

That remains a bit of a mystery, but in this event we see that even as a small baby or child, Jesus had reached beyond the borders of the Promised Land into the world.

He came for the lost sheep of Israel, but all the world would be blessed through him.

Then there is the Herod part of the story.

This baby king was a threat to Herod. If these wise men would tell him where he was, he could launch a surgical strike to take out a potential enemy.

The men who came to worship Jesus departed without assisting Herod. What followed is sometimes called the Massacre or Slaughter of the Innocents.

Herod ordered the death of all male children two years old and younger. When you don’t have a specific target and need to eliminate one who may dethrone you, there is a lot of collateral damage.

In addition to seeing how ruthless Herod would be to retain power; this also gives us a scale to guestimate the age of Jesus when the Magi arrived. He could have been as old a two depending how much of a margin of error Herod put into his orders for this massacre and whether the star gave these special men from the east any sort of head start.

How did Herod miss Jesus?

The Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to pack up his family and move to Egypt. He did what he was told and stayed there until Herod died. But upon Joseph’s return to Israel, he found Herod’s family was still on the throne; so Joseph took his family to live in Nazareth.

Matthew mentions that this was to fulfill the prophecy that he shall be called a Nazarene; however, we in this age are not privileged to the antecedent. Many have speculated as to what the prophecy might be, but there is no definitive Old Testament link to this.

What do we see in this second chapter?

The birth of Jesus reached beyond the borders of Jerusalem and Judea.

Not everyone was wanting a new king.

Joseph was a man that knew to listen to God and do what he said when he said it.

Perhaps that is the lesson for this age.

Listen for the voice of God. Know it when you hear it, and then do what he tells you without hesitation.

Know God’s voice and do what he says.

Amen.

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