24 September 2013

BSF 2013-2014: Matthew 2

I remember one of the special things about having a new baby was all of the visitors we had, both in the hospital and at home. So many people wanted to meet "Cheeto," love on her and bestow her with gifts. I imagine the Magi’s visit to see Jesus (when He probably was about 2 years old) also would have been a joyous occasion.

The Magi were wise Gentile men from the East. They were scientists and astrologers, and they were wealthy and important. They would have noticed the new star in the sky when Jesus was born.

While Christmas tradition tells us there were three Magi (probably based on the three gifts we’ll discuss later), there most likely were more of them. After all, consider all of the servants, animals and the rest of the caravan that must have accompanied these great men.

They had a limited knowledge about God and His coming Messiah. Yet they were willing to risk their lives to find the new King Jesus. They acted on their small amount of knowledge. They went as far as they could on their own. Then they asked King Herod for help. It’s OK to ask for help!

I haven’t paid much attention to the rest of the people in this chapter. Let’s consider them now:
  • King Herod was part-Jewish and was called the king of the Jews. He was fearful, jealous and suspicious. Unlike the Magi, Herod did not choose to worship the King.
  • The townspeople were disturbed because King Herod was disturbed.
  • Like the Magi, the chief priests and teachers of the law had knowledge of the Scriptures. But they did not act on this knowledge. They were within five miles of Jesus in Bethlehem and refused to find the King! They knew the truth but did not apply it.
After they arrived, the Magi worshipped Jesus and offered expensive gifts:
  • Gold was an expensive gift.
  • Frankincense was a precious perfume.
  • Myrrh was used to embalm someone before burial.
Which one of these people am I? Am I a chief priest or a teacher who knows a lot about God but doesn’t do anything with that knowledge? Am I Herod, living with fear, jealousy and suspicion? Am I the townspeople who were easily swayed, who didn’t know much about Jesus and who didn’t really care? Am I the Magi, the wise men who didn’t know much but who took action on that knowledge?

After the Magi’s visit, an angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him to take his family to Egypt. This was God’s way of protecting Jesus from Herod’s plan to kill Him by killing all young boys in Bethlehem. So what did Joseph do when he awoke from this dream? Did he think about things for a few days or talk to Mary about the situation? No! Joseph got up and went. Immediately! They got up in the middle of the night and immediately followed God’s instructions. They traveled 225 miles to Egypt. And God provided for them financially through the gifts of the Magi.

Then a few years later, Joseph had another dream. In this dream, God told Joseph to go to Israel. It may sem like Joseph disobeyed God by going to a different city. But actually it appears that Joseph and Mary’s fear drove them to prayer. And God answered their prayers in a dream by telling them to go to Nazareth. When Joseph heard God’s answer, he obeyed – even when it meant going to Nazareth, a place that was despised.

Things to Think About
  • Am I acting on the truth I have, just like the Magi did?
  • Who or what am I worshipping?
  • Am I so overwhelmed with who Jesus is that I fall to my knees and worship Him?
  • Am I bringing costly gifts to Jesus?
  • What am I willing to sacrifice so I can worship Jesus?
  • Will I walk by faith, even if I don’t know where the next step will lead me? If I believe God is trustworthy, I must act like I do.
  • How quickly do I obey God? How intently do I listen to His instructions?