Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/pm/pm20120411.htm
THRU THE BIBLE EXPOSITION
Matthew: Jesus As Israel's Messiah And His Kingdom
Part III: Jesus As Israel's Messiah By The Homage Paid Him At His Birth
Lesson: Messiah was a Person prophesied in Scripture to be born in little Bethlehem just south of Jerusalem, a truth known by Israel's leaders. However, when He was actually born there, only pagan magi sought to pay Him homage due to Israel's spiritual darkness and its relationship complications.
- If Jesus is the true Hebrew Messiah, it should have been evident to all by the location of His birth that it fulfilled Old Testament prophecy, resulting in Israel nationally paying Him homage at His birth.
- However, Israel's spiritual state was so dark, when report of Messiah's birth was made, her leaders were so entangled in relationship problems, they did not pay Him homage. Reporting the details of this fact helps Matthew explain how Jesus is the Messiah though Israel's rulers did not pay Him homage:
- Jesus As Israel's Messiah By The Homage Paid Him At His Birth, Matthew 2:1-11.
- When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the reign of Herod the Great, pagan magi came to Jerusalem asking, "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." ( Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, p. 21; Matthew 2:1-2)
- This news should have been met with national excitement, for "there was widespread expectation of the coming of a great ruler . . . spread by Jews as well as others over the Roman world." (Willoughby C. Allen, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew (ICC), p. xiii as cited in John F. Walvoord, Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come, 1974, p. 21)
- Yet, spiritual darkness created relationship tangles that blocked Israel's homage to Messiah, Matt. 2:3-8:
- When Herod and Jerusalem heard the magis' news, they were troubled via spiritual darkness, Matt. 2:3:
- Herod was an Edomite from Esau's line, so he was hated and never truly accepted by the Hebrews regardless of his good deeds for Israel, Ibid., Bible Know. Com., N. T., p. 21-22.
- He feared the rise of a Hebrew "king" would spell the end of his rule, so he was upset, and the Hebrews, dreading an upset Herod backed by Rome versus trusting God, were equally upset.
- When Herod then gathered Israel's religious leaders together to demand where the "Messiah" would be born, by specifying Israel's "king" to be the "Christ" (KJV), a better rendering being "Messiah," he exposed the fact that he along with the Hebrews knew well of Israel's Biblical messianic hope.
- Then, when Israel's religious leaders replied that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem of Judaea, they cited Micah 5:2 that clarified Messiah was a Person to be born, not the nation Israel (like later Hebrew commentators suggest), that He would be born in the small town of Bethlehem of Judaea located "about five miles south of Jerusalem," Matt. 2:5-6; Ibid., p. 22. There was no excuse for missing Him!
- Herod then privately called the magi, asking them diligently what time the star appeared to form a plan to destroy the small Messiah by killing all the Bethlehem children around that age, Matthew 2:7, 16.
- Thus, though hearing of His birth, Herod and Israel's religious leaders made no effort to locate the Messiah to pay Him homage, but Herod told the magi to find Him, Matt. 2:8. Herod likely feared a revolt were his men initially tried to find and kill the Messiah, and the Hebrew leaders feared Herod and Rome above trusting God, so they all avoided finding the Messiah and paying Him homage.
- Thus, absent Israel's political and religious leaders, God led the pagan magi to His Son, Messiah Jesus, publicly supernaturally moving the star in the heavens from north-to-south versus the usual east-to-west movement of the stellar host, Ibid. Thus, pagans rejoiced at God's leading, they found the Messiah and paid Him homage, giving Him gifts unlike the spiritually destitute leaders in Israel, Matthew 2:9-11.
- [This event also fits Matthew's theme that Messiah's Kingdom would include save pagans of the world!]
Application: (1) May we believe that Jesus is the long-promised Messiah of God, and (2) that His Kingdom includes all who believe in Him among the nations. (3) May we yield to God's rule in our lives that we function above relationship entanglements to enjoy God's blessings versus seeing our spiritual darkness entrap us in relationship complications that keep us from experiencing His blessing!