The Magi Visit the Messiah
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a) from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
The Escape to Egypt
13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”[c]
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”[d]
The Return to Nazareth
19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.
Another piece of the incredible story of the birth of Jesus. We all have the image of the wise men riding their camels and bringing gifts to Christ. It is a piece of every Christmas concert and a part of the story whenever it is told. What incredible dedication to come and find the child and worship Him. Depending who you talk to, this trip could have taken anywhere from 6 months to 18 months. Regardless, it was a long journey to get to Bethlehem. This is a very famous example of a bible story being told wrong, at least often it is. We always see in plays or movies, the wise men showing up at the stable and worshiping Jesus as He lay in the manger. But if you read this chapter, it’s very different. First, it says the wise men came to the house where they were staying, not a stable. Second, Herod had asked the Magi when the star appeared, and based on this date, he ordered all the babies 2 years and under to be killed. Why? because it had taken the Magi a long time to get there, they were on camels after all. So logically Jesus was likely well over a year old by the time they arrived and by the time Herod realized the Magi had escaped, it could have been very well close to two years. What incredible dedication by these wise men to travel so long, and all by faith that they understood the prophesies correctly.
What is so amazing about this chapter also is how we get to see some Old Testament prophesies regarding the Messiah come to pass, giving clear explanation. And once again we see the faithfulness of Joseph as he hears warnings from God and acts immediately upon them. There is no questioning, just doing.
For me, the lesson in this chapter is to never assume. Read the scriptures carefully. Be careful of blindly believing stories as they are said. Always check the scriptures to see what is said is true. This is what really excites me about going through the New Testament this year, chapter by chapter. Taking this slow will really allow us to focus in on what is really written.
Lord, thank you for your Word. Thank you for your truth. God we ask for understanding as we study the scriptures. Thank you for how you spoke to Joseph once again and warned him. Lord, teach us to be sensitive to your instruction and guidance. In your name Jesus, amen.