Wise Men from the East, Matthew, Chapter 2

Analysis: Matthew, Chapter 2

Matthew, Chapter 2: A Confluence of History and Theology.

The second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew is not merely an account of events following the birth of Jesus; it is a rich tapestry interwoven with historical references and profound theological implications. The early life of Jesus, as recounted by Matthew, is set against a backdrop of political tension, fulfillment of prophecies, and divine interventions, revealing the extraordinary within the ordinary and emphasizing the universality of Jesus' mission.

The initial verses introduce us to the Magi from the East, often regarded as wise men or astrologers. Their journey, prompted by the sighting of a star, underscores the far-reaching significance of Jesus' birth. Historically, the Magi were likely influential figures, possibly from Persia, with knowledge of Jewish prophecies, lending credence to the actuality of their journey. Theologically, their quest illustrates the inclusivity of Christ's message. These were Gentiles, not Jews, acknowledging and seeking the Messiah, thereby emphasizing that salvation through Jesus is not limited by ethnicity or geography.

The gifts they offer — gold, frankincense, and myrrh — are not arbitrary. Gold is a gift fitting for a king, indicating Jesus' earthly kingship. Frankincense, used in temple rituals, signifies divinity. Myrrh, a burial spice, poignantly foreshadows Jesus' sacrificial death. Together, they encapsulate the multifaceted nature of Jesus: King, God, and Savior.

The figure of King Herod introduces a stark contrast. Historically, Herod was known for his paranoia and ruthlessness, characteristics evident in his plot to eliminate the perceived threat of a newborn king by ordering the massacre of infants in Bethlehem. This tragic episode is a haunting testament to the lengths human authorities might go to preserve their power. Theologically, it emphasizes the ever-present battle between good and evil and foreshadows the resistance Jesus would face in His ministry.

Jesus' escape to Egypt and subsequent return possesses historical and theological weight. Historically, it is plausible for a family to seek refuge in neighboring Egypt to escape threats in Judea. Theologically, it resonates deeply with the story of the Israelites. Their exodus from Egypt under Moses was a foundational narrative for the Jewish people, and now, Jesus, often deemed the new Moses, retraces this path in reverse. His return from Egypt to Israel is laden with symbolism, marking the new era of salvation and fulfillment of prophecies.

Concluding with Jesus' settlement in Nazareth, Matthew's narrative portrays the Savior's humble beginnings. Nazareth was relatively obscure, emphasizing that greatness and divine purpose can emerge from the most unassuming origins.

In summation, Matthew Chapter 2 is a masterful blend of historical events and theological revelations. It establishes the early life of Jesus within the broader biblical narrative, illustrating the fulfillment of ancient prophecies and foreshadowing the pivotal role Jesus would play in human salvation. This chapter serves as a bridge between Old Testament prophecies and New Testament revelations, asserting Jesus' unparalleled significance in both historical events and the eternal theological discourse.

The Scripture: Matthew, Chapter 2

1 Now 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,

2 Saying, 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.

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

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

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

6 And 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.

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

8 And 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.

9 When 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.

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

11 And 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.

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

13 And 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.

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

15 And 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.

16 Then 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.

17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,

18 In 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.

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

20 Saying, 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.

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

22 But 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:

23 And 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.

A Letter to Jesus: Matthew, Chapter 2

Dearest Lord Jesus,

As I delve into Matthew chapter 2, the depth of Your story, even from Your infancy, moves my heart deeply. The journey of the Magi speaks to the universal recognition of Your divine role. These wise men, not of the Jewish faith, traveled great distances, guided by a star, representing the light of Your presence and how You guide all of us towards You. Their earnest quest reminds me that Your love and salvation are not just for a chosen few, but for everyone, regardless of where they come from.

The gifts they presented - gold, frankincense, and myrrh - each held such profound symbolism. Gold, signifying Your earthly kingship; frankincense, a testament to Your divinity and the worship You are due; and myrrh, hauntingly foreshadowing the suffering and death You would endure for humanity. It is astonishing how, even as an infant, the spectrum of Your life — from King to God to Sacrificial Lamb — was foretold.

King Herod's reaction to Your birth is an unsettling reminder of the threats You faced. His alarm and the subsequent massacre of innocent children depict the tragic lengths that earthly rulers might go to suppress the divine plan. In his fear and rage, I see the conflict between earthly and divine power, a struggle that continued throughout Your earthly life.

Your family's escape to Egypt and the subsequent return from it draws parallels to the Old Testament narratives. This reverse journey resonates deeply, echoing the previous escape of Your chosen people into Egypt and their eventual deliverance. The fulfillment of the prophetic words, "Out of Egypt, I called my son, " adds another layer to this intricate tapestry of Your life.

Lastly, Your settling in Nazareth, where You'd be called a Nazarene, is a humbling reminder of Your earthly beginnings. It's thought-provoking how the Messiah, the Savior of the world, would hail from a place considered insignificant by many. Yet, in this humility, I recognize the profound message that in the eyes of God, no one and no place is insignificant.

As I reflect upon these events, I am reminded of the divine orchestration of Your life and how, from the very beginning, every moment held significance. I am grateful for this journey through Your Word, finding in it both solace and guidance. May my heart always seek You as earnestly as the Magi did.

With deepest reverence and love,

Your ever loving disciple, Michael.

Summary: Matthew, Chapter 2

In Matthew chapter 2, the narrative begins with the visitation of the Magi, or wise men, from the East. Guided by a star, they come to Jerusalem in search of the newborn "King of the Jews. " Their inquiry alarms King Herod and the residents of Jerusalem. Herod consults the chief priests and scribes, who, referencing the prophets, pinpoint Bethlehem as the prophesied birthplace of this king. Herod sends the Magi to Bethlehem, deceitfully asking them to report back so he might also "worship" the child.

The Magi find Jesus and his family, offer gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and, being warned in a dream of Herod's malicious intent, they return to their homeland by another route.

Joseph is also warned in a dream to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus to escape Herod's impending massacre of young male children in Bethlehem. This grim act by Herod fulfills a prophecy from Jeremiah about mourning in Ramah. After Herod's death, an angel again appears to Joseph in a dream, instructing him to return to Israel. However, hearing that Herod's son Archelaus is reigning in Judea, Joseph fears for his family's safety and withdraws to the district of Galilee, settling in the town of Nazareth. This move fulfills another prophecy, that the Messiah would be called a Nazarene.

Interpretation: Matthew, Chapter 2

Matthew chapter 2 is rich with theological and symbolic elements.

  1. The Magi's Visit: The arrival of the Magi (often referred to as the "Three Wise Men" or "Three Kings" even though their exact number is not specified) signifies the recognition of Jesus' kingship and divinity not just by the Jews but by Gentiles (non-Jews) as well. Their journey from the East to find the newborn King indicates that Jesus' message and salvation are for all of humanity.

  2. Gifts of the Magi: Each gift the Magi present to Jesus carries symbolic significance.

    • Gold represents Jesus' kingship on Earth.
    • Frankincense, often used in worship, represents Jesus' divinity.
    • Myrrh, used in burials, foreshadows Jesus' eventual suffering and death.
  3. Herod's Response: Herod's alarm and his subsequent cruel act of killing innocent children reflect the lengths to which earthly powers might go to suppress challenges to their authority. This contrasts with the divine nature of Jesus' power and the eternal nature of His Kingdom.

  4. Flight to Egypt: The family's escape to Egypt echoes the Old Testament narrative of Joseph (son of Jacob) leading his family into Egypt to escape famine. It's a reverse journey where, previously, God's people went to Egypt for safety and later were enslaved, only to be delivered back to the promised land. Now, the Savior of the world flees to Egypt for safety, only to return later. This is seen as a fulfillment of the words from Hosea 11:1: "Out of Egypt, I called my son. "

  5. Slaughter of the Innocents: This horrific act by Herod fulfills a prophecy from Jeremiah 31:15. The sorrow and mourning of mothers in Bethlehem echo Rachel's sorrow from the Old Testament. This event signifies the extent of evil forces at work trying to counteract the divine plan of salvation.

  6. Settling in Nazareth: The family's move to Nazareth, where Jesus would grow up, ensures the fulfillment of prophecies that mention the Messiah would be called a Nazarene. The exact Old Testament prophecy Matthew references is a subject of debate among scholars, as there isn't a direct verse. However, the term "Nazarene" might have been a derogatory term or implied someone from an insignificant place, emphasizing Jesus' humble origins and the unexpected nature of God's salvific work.

In sum, Matthew chapter 2 underscores the cosmic significance of Jesus' birth, contrasting divine purpose and guidance with human reactions ranging from worship to hostility. The events and responses highlight the various themes that will unfold in Jesus' life and ministry: recognition and rejection, majesty and humility, life and death.

A Letter to a Friend: Matthew, Chapter 2

Hey Friend,

I hope this letter finds you well. I've been diving into the book of Matthew lately, and I couldn't help but share some insights I found in chapter 2 with you.

It starts with these Magi, or wise men, from the East who are led by a star to find the newborn "King of the Jews". What struck me about this is that they weren't even Jewish, yet they recognized the significance of Jesus' birth. It's such a powerful reminder that His message isn't just for one group but for everyone, no matter where we come from.

And the gifts they brought! Gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It's not just about the value of these gifts but the deeper meaning behind them. Gold, representing Jesus' kingship on Earth; frankincense, a symbol of His divinity; and myrrh, which is often associated with burial, pointing to the sacrifices He'd make for all of us. Even in His infancy, there were signs of the incredible journey His life would take.

Then there's King Herod's reaction. His fear and decision to massacre innocent children in Bethlehem is both chilling and heartbreaking. It's a grim reflection of the lengths some might go to hold onto power, contrasting sharply with the selfless love Jesus would show throughout His life.

The escape to Egypt was another fascinating part. It's like a reversal of the Old Testament story where the Israelites were led out of Egypt. This time, Jesus and His family are seeking refuge in Egypt only to return to Israel later on. It's another example of how intricately connected the Old and New Testaments are.

The chapter concludes with the Holy Family settling in Nazareth. I find it inspiring that the Savior of the world would grow up in such a humble place. It just goes to show that greatness can emerge from the most unexpected places.

Reading all of this, I'm reminded of the intricate design of life and how even the seemingly small events can be part of a bigger story. I hope you find these insights as thought-provoking as I did. Would love to hear your thoughts when you have a moment.

Take care and talk soon,


Matthew Chapter 1 - Jesus Christ Born of Mary
Matthew Chapter 2 - Wise Men from the East
Matthew Chapter 3 - John the Baptist Baptizes Jesus
Matthew Chapter 4 - Satan Tempts Jesus
Matthew Chapter 5 - The Sermon on the Mount 1
Matthew Chapter 6 - The Sermon on the Mount 2
Matthew Chapter 7 - The Sermon on the Mount 3
Matthew Chapter 8 - Jesus Heals
Matthew Chapter 9 - Jesus Heals a Man Who Could Not Walk
Matthew Chapter 10 - The Twelve Apostles
Matthew Chapter 11 - John the Baptist Sends Messengers to Jesus
Matthew Chapter 12 - Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath
Matthew Chapter 13 - A Story about a Farmer
Matthew Chapter 14 - The Death of John the Baptist
Matthew Chapter 15 - Defilement Comes from Within
Matthew Chapter 16 - A Demand for a Sign from Heaven
Matthew Chapter 17 - Jesus Transfigured on the Mount
Matthew Chapter 18 - Who Is the Greatest?
Matthew Chapter 19 - With God All Things Are Possible
Matthew Chapter 20 - Jesus a Third Time Predicts His Death and Resurrection
Matthew Chapter 21 - Jesus Enters Jerusalem
Matthew Chapter 22 - The Great Banquet
Matthew Chapter 23 - Jesus Condemns the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law of Moses
Matthew Chapter 24 - Olivet Discourse
Matthew Chapter 25 - The Son of Man Will Judge the Nations
Matthew Chapter 26 - The Plot to Kill Jesus
Matthew Chapter 27 - Jesus Handed Over to Pontius Pilate
Matthew Chapter 28 - He Is Risen

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