Matthew 2:1 – Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem.
The Joyous Kings
Matthew 2:2 – saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” The wise men are talking to King Herod and Herod tells the chief priests to get the scrolls and they find out it was written by the prophets that, He was born in Bethlehem. King Herod tells the wise men to go to Bethlehem and search diligently for the young Child.
(Verse 9) When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. (Verse 10) When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. (Verse 11) And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Verse 12) Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
Most people never caught the words “house” and “young Child” in the Christmas story. I was an adult, sitting in church and heard a pastor bring this to light. Jesus was not in a stable when these wise men came. He was a young Child and was living in a house with His parents. The wise men had traveled from about a thousand miles away from Persia. They traveled across the desert and it probably took six to nine months to complete.
These men were men of science, they studied the stars and saw a sign in the heavens that caused them to prepare for this journey. They had probably studied all religions and read that the King of the Jews was to be born. Their conclusion was that the God of the Jews was the true God. They also knew that this Jewish Messiah was the One that would be the Savior of the world. Why else would they make that journey if they didn’t believe that?
So they went to the capital city, Jerusalem. They asked when they got there, “Where is this King of the Jews?” That upset Herod because he had been given the title “King of the Jews!”
When the wise men left Jerusalem, the Bible says the star that they had seen when they had left the East, went before them until it came and “stood” over the house, where the Child was. Stars don’t move, and they don’t “went.” And a star doesn’t “stand!” This was a supernatural phenomenon. As men of science, they knew that. This star very well could have been an angel, we don’t know. They hadn’t even seen Jesus yet and they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy!
Isn’t it amazing that people can rejoice when their team scores at a ballgame, but those same people can’t get exceedingly joyful or excited when praising God in a worship service? Should Christmas time not make us all exceedingly rejoiceful? Our King is born and not just any King, but the King of the universe!
These wise men were the wealthy intelligent men of that day and they cut loose when this happened. Then they came into the “house.” They were overwhelmed! They fell down in worship.
This Greek word for “fell down,” is one Greek word and very rare in the New Testament. It’s not at all the normal Greek word for “bowing.” This word literally means to “fall violently,” and be “broken” or “shattered.” Wow! When these men walked into this house, they were overwhelmed by the glory and majesty of this young Child! They knew that they had come into the presence of God. Then the Bible says, “They opened their treasures.”
When we come into the presence of the King, we will become an extravagant giver. At Christmas, the whole world gets a small taste of giving. There is nothing else that could have happened to get the whole world into giving. Are we not excited when we see the person open the gift we get them? Now let’s look at the jealous king:
The Jealous King
Matthew 2:7 – Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. (Verse 8) And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
(Verse 16) Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.
The wise men had been divinely warned in a dream and went home a different way. Why would the Bible use the word “warned?” Because Herod was not only going to kill Jesus, he was going to kill the witnesses. However, once the wise men became “givers” and became “worshipers,” God protected them. Before they became worshipers and givers and you cannot be a worshiper and not be a giver, and if you are not a giver, one cannot be a worshiper, but before all this, before they gave extravagantly, they had to go to other people to find out what the Scripture meant. They had someone explain the Scriptures to them. After they gave, God spoke directly to them. Did you catch that? In the wisdom of God, we can outsmart the devil!
Herod the Great was a real and evil person. He was called great because he was a great builder. Some things he built are still standing today. He built Sessarriah and Masada. He also built the Western Wall or the Whaling Wall, which also is still standing today. He built that as a retaining wall to expand the temple grounds. He did that to try and gain favor with the Jews. He was a manipulator, a deceiver, totally evil.
Five days before Herod died, he ordered the execution of his son, the favorite son that was to take his place as king. And Herod knew that he was dying when he did this. He either exiled or murdered all of his wives. He even murdered his favorite wife. History says he murdered his favorite wife, although he regretted it later. By the way, she was a Jew and her name was Mariam. He had married her to get favor with the Jews. He was always trying to manipulate the people around him. Why because he was jealous! Whey was he jealous? Because he was insecure.
All jealousy comes from insecurity. If Herod saw a servant whispering, he had them killed. By the way, there are five Herods in the Bible. Herod was a name that was passed on.
There was Herod the Great; Herod Phillip; Herod Antipus; Herod Agrippa; and Herod Agrippa II. Herod Agrippa II was the one Paul stood before at the end of his life. The one that said, “Thou almost perswaded me to be a Christian.” Herod Antipus is the one that married Herod Philip’s wife and John the Baptist told him, “Your wrong!” And his wife is the one that said she wanted John the Baptist’ head on a plater!
There was a spirit on these kings and is still around today – Herodian Spirit. This spirit says to “Look out for number one, or no one else will!” There is no abundant life without giving up control. As long as a person tries to maintain control in whatever area, and doesn’t give it to Jesus, they will never experience the abundant life!
Herod secretly called the wise men. What’s the area of a person’s life that they don’t want anyone to find out about? If there is one, that’s where the “Herodian Spirit” is.
The Just King
Jesus is the only Just King because He is the only One justified to forgive us.
Luke 2:8 – Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. (Verse 9) And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. (Verse 10) Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. (Vers e11) For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
(Verse 12) And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.” (Verse 13) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: (Verse 14) “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
This is Christmas! The Creator and sustainer of the universe, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, came to this world as a vulnerable, helpless, baby! He had to be nourished to stay alive. He was carried everywhere He went to be protected. The Creator became dependant upon the creation. Is that not amazing? He could have come any other way, but God chose to come as a little helpless baby.
The Bible tells us that Jesus was born, to die. Revelation says it this way: “The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world.”
So the message at Christmas is not that He was born, but that He died for our sins! Here’s another good message of Christmas: He didn’t stay dead! Which means He can conquer any dying place in our lives!