Matthew 2 – The birth of Jesus and the death of Herod

Interpretation:

After Jesus is born, some wise men from the East came to Jerusalem to find out where he was born. I’m not entirely sure how important these guys were, or to to the disappointment of nativity scenes everywhere, if there in fact were actually three of these wise men.

But the point is they didn’t just ask where Jesus was, they said (Matthew 2: 2),

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?”

Now Judea was ruled over by Herod at the time. Herod’s the type of guy I can’t exactly see appreciating people saying there’s a new boss in town (ironically Herod seemed to basically be a minion of the Roman Empire). So he needs to get this sorted out quickly.

Herod finds out where the Child  is and contacts the wise men to let them know what’s up. How nice of him! All he asks is that they let him know when they find Jesus so that he can go worship Him as well!

So the wise men head to Bethlehem, visit Jesus along with Mary, and offer their three famous gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Before they head back to Jerusalem, an angel tells them what Herod really wants – needless to say they skedaddle back home.

Herod, not too happy his James Bond-villain-esque plot doesn’t pan out, decides to murder all the newborn males in Bethlehem. While terrible for the children of Bethlehem,  an angel warned Joseph ahead of time in a dream that Herod would be out for the Child.

What did the angel tell him to do? Basically the safest thing you could think of – skip town to Egypt with Mary and Jesus and wait it out. So Joseph chills out in Egypt, until one day an angel appears to him yet again in a dream (Matthew 2:20),

“…Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.”

Taking the advice of the angel, they head to Israel.  At some point Joseph hears that Archelaus is the successor to Herod – a.k.a. not good news (evidently Archelaus wasn’t that popular of a ruler). So God redirects Joseph and the gang into the region of Galilee to the city of Nazareth.

 

Thoughts:

  •  I think there’s some ambiguity as to the meaning of the gifts of the wise men. Gold? Alright, that makes sense – but what about frankincense and myrrh? It seems like there’s a wide range of theories as to the meaning – from symbols of status/honor to items of practical importance. What I’m taking away from it is that these are items of significance, given to someone of significance.

 

  • Joseph’s obedience to God is quite inspiring isn’t it? I mean first of all, Joseph is caught right in the middle of this terrible mess – Mary becomes pregnant before they’re married, people are after the head of her Child, and he’s stuck in Egypt for who knows how long – yet each time God speaks to him he does exactly as he’s told. That takes some conviction – especially since his gut is telling him to do exactly the opposite of what God wants him to do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve decided to go with what I want to do, rather than what I should do.

 

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Matthew 1 – The ancestors of Jesus and Joseph’s embrace of Jesus

This book starts out with a genealogy of Jesus Christ (verses 1-16), starting with Abraham all the way up to the Messiah himself. Matthew 1: 17 summarizes how much history this involved:

 “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.”

42 generations from Abraham to Jesus! Abraham lived roughly around ~2050 BC… so a “generation” here is roughly 50 years on average compared to a modern “generation” which is around 20-30 years. I’m curious about the discrepancy. Wikipedia seems to say that Matthew may have left out a few names.

Anyway, the remaining verses let us know a little bit about Joseph and Mary:  Mary is engaged to Joseph, but ends up pregnant before they’re married (still a virgin).  Joseph starts panicking and wants to break things off secretly, but an angel drops by in a dream of Joseph’s and tells him to hold up, since Mary is actually pregnant with the Holy Spirit!

So Joseph wakes up, makes Mary his wife, and doesn’t consummate the marriage until after Jesus is born.

Thoughts:

 

  • In Matthew 1:19, Joseph’s initial reaction was that he  “...was minded to put her away secretly.”  Matthew makes sure to mention Joseph is a good guy who wants to save her from public example. At first glance it seems messed up that he wants to dump her as soon as he finds out she’s pregnant, but he’s probably doing her a huge favor, maybe even saving her life (public examples often ended up covered in rocks).

 

 

My goal for this blog is to hopefully be able to read through the gospel and (eventually) the rest of the Bible to try and get a better understanding of what’s going on. The name is a stupid pun… I’m into maths and I recently heard a hymnal I liked called “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”  I definitely do not claim to have any knowledge on what I’m talking about – I’m merely recording my thoughts as I read along and look into each chapter. In fact you can probably rely on what I say to be totally false.  We’ll see how it goes!