MATTHEW 2 – STILL THE GREATEST QUEST THIS CHRISTMAS
One Christmas when our kids were young, we decided to re-enact the Christmas story. I painted a background scene and we each played a part, dressing up as Shepherds one minute and Magi the next. We had towels on our head and the angels – Julie and her sister – were dressed in white sheets. We narrated the story and improvised. We had a big star that hung from the ceiling and a manger with a doll, instead of a Christmas tree, an old fence with paintings of animals hanging over the side. I also painted a picture of Mary and Joseph onto some cardboard and borrowed some old lamps. We split our sides laughing sometimes but at certain moments as Rachel our daughter held the Christ child (her doll) in her arms, we also felt the presence of God as the story found it’s way through the events of Jesus birth. Our re-created stable had a manger with gifts all around it (that year the Magi were particularly generous with more than 3 gifts). We opened the gifts that year with an acknowledgement that the greatest gift of all was found lying in a manger and ended with a birthday cake for Jesus. For me, that’s my greatest Christmas memory.
In the real Christmas story, Matthew 2 starts off with Magi searching for a king. Who are these guys? We don’t know if there were 2 or 40 of them. We do know they gave 3 gifts. Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, gifts for a king. Some people trace them back to Daniel 5:11 and I like to think that their journey to Bethlehem was because of the ancient writings of Daniel, which we no longer have. Perhaps he left a legacy that led them to Jesus. His Godly wisdom and insights from days gone by to Persian Magi, sent these men on a quest to find the Messiah.
What was the star that moved across the sky? Was it a comet or supernova? I like to think that it was the Shekinah glory that had once led the Israelites through the wilderness in the days of Moses that appeared in the sky as a sign of the Saviours birth, and led them to humblest of places – a humble house in Bethlehem. You wouldn’t expect to find a King in a place like Bethlehem. It has to be God impressing upon us that His rulership doesn’t depend upon the lavish palaces build by such kings as Herod.
Matthew cites an ancient prophecy in relation to Jesus birth.
“And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah; are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a ruler, who will shepherd My people Israel.”
Christ is pictured as a powerful ruler but also as a caring shepherd. He is all powerful and able to accomplish all He purposes for your life. He is a caring and loving shepherd who acts with grace in our lives. So different to king Herod, whose reputation for brutality was renowned.
Herod was a descendant of Esau, an Edomite, and he was a cruel and ruthless king. History tells us that he even murdered his own wife and 3 of his sons because he was suspicious of them taking over his kingdom. The man was insane! It was said that it was better to be Herod’s sow (pig) than Herod’s son, but you wouldn’t say that to his face. A pig would not be slaughtered because Jewish people saw pigs as unclean. But Herod’s own sons were slaughtered. Such merciless power is not unusual in the East, even in our own day. He said he wanted to go and worship the Messiah but his brutality in killing the infants in Bethlehem shows what measures he went to in order to maintain his authority over the Jews.
When an angel told Joseph to escape to Egypt, he and Mary probably used the gold, frankincense and myrrh as trade to Egyptian merchants. They would be worth a great deal of money in Egypt where they used these things for embalming the dead.
God bless you as you seek Jesus this Christmas and find Him in the most unexpected places and in the humblest of settings and as you celebrate His birth, bring Him the very best of your worship.
- Matthew 2:1-23 – COLLATERAL DAMAGE AT CHRISTMAS (pastorross1.wordpress.com)