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Dave Burnette's Commentary

Matthew Chapter 2

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Matthew (Levi)
Date Penned: (60-65 AD)
Overview: Jesus Christ the King (c 1-28)
Theme: The Birth and Preparation of Jesus, The King (c 1-4)
Message: Visitors arrive from Eastern Lands (v 1-12) The Escape to Egypt (v 13-18) The Return to Nazareth (v 19-23)

Matthew 2 Commentary
(2:1) Bethlehem is a small town 5 miles south of Jerusalem. It sits on a high ridge over 2,000 feet above sea level. It is mentioned in more detail in the Gospel of Luke. Luke also explains why Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem when Jesus was born rather than Nazareth, their hometown. The land of Israel was divided into 4 political districts and several lesser territories. Judea was to the South, Samaria in the middle, Galilee to the north, and Idumea to the southeast. Bethlehem of Judea (Judah) had been prophesied as the Messiah's, birthplace (Micah 5) Jerusalem was also in Judah and was the seat of government for Herod the Great, king over all four political districts. After Herod's death, the districts were divided among 3 seperate rulers, although he was a ruthless, evil man who murdered many in his own family. Herod the Great supervised the renovation of the Temple, making it much larger and beautiful. This made him popular with many Jews. Jesus would visit Jerusalem many times because the great Jewish festivals were held there

(2:2) Not much is known about these wise men. We don't know where they came from or how many there were. Tradition says they were men of high position from Parthia, near the site of ancient Babylon. It is not known how they knew the star was the star that represented the Messiah? When they found them they responded with joy, worship, and gifts. How different from the approach people often take today. We expect God to come looking for us, to explain himself, prove who he is, and give us gifts. But those who are wise still seek and worship Jesus today, not for what they can get, but for who he is. The wise men said they saw Jesus' star. Balaam referred to a coming "Star out of Jacob" (Numbers 24) Regardless of man's theories of the star or how the wise men had knowledge of the star. The Lord made a special star to announce the arrival of his Son and the Wise men found Jesus.

(2:3) Herold the Great was quite disturbed when the wise men asked about a newborn king of the Jews because Herod was not the rightful heir to the throne of David: therefore many Jews hated him as a person not worthy of this position. If Jesus really was an heir, trouble would arise. Herod was ruthless and had many enemies. He was suspicious that someone would try to overthrow him. Herod didn't want the Jews, a religious people, to unite around a religious figure. If these astrologers were of Jewish descent and from Parthia (the most powerful region next to Rome) they would have welcomed a Jewish King who could swing the balance of power away from Rome. The land of Israel, far from Rome, would have been easy prey for a nation trying to gain more control.

(2:4) The leading priests and teachers of religious law were aware of Micah 5 and other prophecies about the Messiah. The wise men's news troubled Herod because he knew the Jewish people expected the Messiah to come soon (Luke 3) Most Jews expected the Messiah to be a great military and political leader, like Alexander the Great. Herod's counselors would have told Herod this. No wonder this ruthless man took no chances and ordered all the babies in Bethlehem killed.

(2:5) Matthew often quoted Old Testament prophets. This prophecy, paraphrasing Micah 5, had been delivered 7 centuries earlier. Matthew changed the words slightly and he applied the prophecy to Christ. New Testament writers often combined similar verses when quoting the Old Testament.

(2:6) Most religious leaders believed in a literal fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecy: therefore, they believed the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, Ironically, when Jesus was born, these same religious leaders became his greatest enemies. When the Messiah, for whom they had been waiting finally came, they didn't recognize him.

(2:8) Herod did not want to worship Christ - he was lying. This was a trick to get the wise men to return to him and reveal the whereabouts of the newborn king. Herod's plan was to kill Jesus.

(2:11) Jesus was probably one or two years old when the wise men found him. By this time, Mary and Joseph were married, living in a house, and intending to stay in Bethlehem for a while. (Luke 2) The wise men gave these expensive gifts because they were worthy presents for a future king. Bible students have seen in the gift symbols of Christ's identity and what he would accomplish. Gold was a gift for a King, Frankincense was a gift for Deity, and Myrrh was a spice used to anoint a body for burial. These gifts may have provided the financial resources for the trip to Egypt and back.

(2:11) The wise men brought gifts and worshipped Jesus for who he was. This is the essence of true worship - honoring Christ for who He is and being willing to give Him what is valuable to you. Worship God because he is the perfect, just and almighty Creator of the universe, worthy of the best you have to give.

(2:12) After finding Jesus and worshiping him the wise men were warned by God not to return through Jerusalem as they had intended. Finding Jesus may mean that your life must take a different direction, one that is responsive and obedient to God's Word. Are willing to be led a different way?

(2:13) This is the second dream or vision that Joseph received from God. His first dream revealed that Mary's child would be the Messiah. The second dream told him how to protect the child's life. Although Joseph was not Jesus' natural father he was Jesus' Legal father and was responsible for his safety and well-being. Divine guidance comes only to prepare hearts. Joseph remained receptive to God's guidance.

(2:14) Going to Egypt was not unusual because there were colonies of Jews in several major cities there. Theis colonies began during the time of the great captivity (Jeremiah 43) There is an interesting parallel between this flight to Egypt and Israel was an infant nation. It went to Egypt , as a child, God led Israel out (Hosea 11) God brought Jesus back. Both events show God working to save his people.

(2:16) Herod, the king of the Jews, killed all the boys under 2 years of age in an obsessive attempt to kill Jesus, the newborn king he stained his hands with blood, but he did not harm Jesus. Herod was King by a human appointment. No one can thwart God's plans. Herold was afraid that this newborn king would one day take his throne. He completely misunderstood the reason for Christ's coming. Jesus didn't want Herod's throne, He wanted to be king of Herod's life. Jesus wanted to give Herod eternal life, not take away his present life. Today people are often afraid that Christ wants to take things away when, in reality, he wants to give them real freedom, peace, and joy. Don't fear Christ - give him the throne of your life. 

(2:17) Rachel was the wife of Jacob, one of the great men of God in the Old Testament. From Jaacob's 12 sons came the 12 tribes of Israel, Rachel was buried near Bethlehem (Genesis 35)(Jeremiah 31)

(2:19-22) Herod the Great died in 4 BC of an incurable disease. Tome trusted him but didn't trust his sons. Herod knew Rome wouldn't give his successor as much power, do he divided his kingdom into 3 parts, one for each son. Archelaus got Judea, Samaria, and Idumes: Herod antipas received Galilee and Peres: Herod Philip II got Trachonitis, Archelaus, a violent man, began his reign by slaughtering 3,000 influential people. He was banished nine years later. God didn't want Joseph's family to go into the region of this evil ruler.

(2:23) Naxareth sat in the hilly area of southern Galilee near the crossroads of great caravan trade routes. The town itself was rather small. The Roman garrison in charge of Galilee was housed there. The people of Nazareth had constant contact with people from all over the world, so world news reached them quickly. The people of Nazareth had an attitude of Independence that many Jews despised. This may have been what Nathaneal commented (John 1) "Can there be any good thing to come out of Nazareth?" The Old Testament does not record this specific statement, "He shall be called a Nazarene" Many scholars believe, however, that Matthew was referring to Isaiah 11 where the Hebrew word for "branch" is similar to the word for "Nazarene" Or he may have been referring to a prophecy unrecorded in the Bible. In any case, Matthew painted the picture of jesus as the true Messiah announced by God through the prophets, and he made the point that Jesus, the Messiah, had unexpectedly humble beginnings, just as the Old Testament predicted (Micah 5)

Dave Burnette's Life Application

Wise Men Still Seek Him

 Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue in the book of Matthew with Chapter 2. In our text today we see the wise men coming for the eastern lands to see this one who was foretold, the Messiah, Jesus-Christ. While wise men seek Him we see evil men continue to ignore the Word of God and the fulfilled prophecy. In making application we see that wise men will seek Him and when we do Jesus will reveal Himself to us, showing us how we can be Saved, and then enjoy the victorious Christian life. How about you? Have you found Salvation in Him? Let us learn from our text today and the example of these men who were wise to seek the Lord Jesus-Christ.


Matthew 2

Matthew 2

 1Now 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,

 2Saying, 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.

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

 4And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

 5And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

 6And 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.

 7Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

 8And 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.

 9When 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.

 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

 11And 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.

 12And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

 13And 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.

 14When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

 15And 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.

 16Then 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 inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,

 18In 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.

 19But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

 20Saying, 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.

 21And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

 22But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

 23And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.