Reading For Thursday Matthew 2:1-23
There is a definite contrast between the wise men and Herod. Herod the Great established peace throughout the land, restored the temple, provided jobs for the working class, and completed a number of building projects throughout his territory. His final years as king were less glorious and depicted him as a tyrant. Herod was characterized by political intrigue, executions, familial disputes, war, and clashes with Rome. He died dishonorably and was succeeded by his son, Archelaus. Herod tries to locate Jesus but fails to do so, and God intervenes to ensure that he and the wise men will not meet again. The wise men find Jesus and worship him in the house and not the stable. They present gifts of gold (symbolic of a king), frankincense (symbolic of a priest) and myrrh (a symbol of suffering and death). The wise men simply offer them as an act of worship. Meanwhile, Herod is conniving to prevent the prophecy of Micah going any further. When he learns that the wise men have returned home, he takes matters into his own hands and slaughters all the male children under two years of age in Bethlehem and the surrounding region. This slaughter is another fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Jer. 31:15). The safety of Jesus is undertaken by God himself when he tells Joseph by his angel that he must take Jesus to Egypt. Matthew wants us to see Jesus’ life and ministry in terms of redemption and salvation, continuing the redemptive history of the Old Testament. After the death of Herod, an angelic announcement instructs the family to return to Israel, to the town of Nazareth, where Jesus will grow up. Matthew relates that this fulfilled the prophecy that he would be a Nazarene.
Things To Consider:
- What does the visit of the wise men tell us about God's heart for the nations?
- Why would news of the Messiah be troubling to a Jewish convert?
- Those that knew the scripture still missed Jesus. How does this happen today?
- Why is an offering part of the worship described in both testaments?
- What does the symbolism of the gifts remind us of concerning Jesus?
- How do we see God's sovereign rule over a wicked ruler?
- Why is violence toward children so wrong? What are the implications of this today?
- Once again, God uses a dream to instruct Joseph. Does this still happen today?
- Why is prophetic fulfillment so important?