Read Matthew 2
The Magi Visit the Messiah
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi 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.’
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.”
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.”
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.
As you read through chapter 2, look for two themes: 1) God fulfills his plan; and 2) Jesus is worthy of joyful worship, effort, and sacrifice. Before you hop back into this devotional, mark up your bible with the following:
- Highlight every event that occurred to fulfill prophetic scripture.
- Underline all the places where God guided and protected people.
- Take note of the various characters and their response to the idea that the Messiah has been born.
As you look over your notes, you’ll be reminded how God fulfills his plan, period. God alone orders the whole universe, and his plan will be accomplished in every detail. God knew everything and determined who would be where at what time. He even directed a star to stop and go. It’s incredible to see the lengths to which King Herod would go to exterminate Jesus, and yet even he, with all his power and brutal determination, could not get in the way of God’s plan. Herod got outwitted, but God gave the Magi all that they needed to find Jesus and gave Joseph perfect instructions to keep Jesus safe. God knew everything and fulfilled his plan.
This passage also reminds us that Jesus is worthy of joyful worship, effort, and sacrifice. The Magi, foreigners from the east, came all the way to Jerusalem to ask where they could find Jesus. They talked to Herod, Herod got the information on the birth city from the Jewish religious leaders, and then sent the Magi to Bethlehem. The Magi followed the star to baby Jesus and they were overjoyed. The ESV translation says it this way in Matthew 2:10, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” They were compelled to bow down and worship Jesus and presented valuable gifts to him. Consider the great effort and sacrifice they made to come all the way to see and worship and honor Jesus, and all of this was done with an exceeding amount of joy. They knew King Jesus was worthy, even though he was still a baby. How much more should we feel compelled to worship in joy, we who are filled with the Holy Spirit and know all that Jesus did on the cross and his glorious resurrection and rule!
Now contrast the Magi’s response to that of others. First consider King Herod who was so concerned with his own rule that he would try with all his might to thwart God’s plan. Herod thought he could take action and protect his throne, as if he was the one in control. Next, consider the Jewish religious leaders who knew the scriptures best, but could not be bothered to go look for Jesus with the Magi. They could tell others about the scriptures, but they weren’t interested for themselves when it came to actually beholding and worshiping Jesus. Let us not be like King Herod or these religious leaders, but may we come to be with him and worship him with exceeding joy, making great effort and sacrifice because He is worthy.
- Are you in any way like the Jewish religious leaders who stay at home, comfortable and apathetic about truly worshiping Jesus? Are you content to know the scriptures, go to church, instruct others, and look “religious” without passionately pursuing Jesus for ourselves with great effort, sacrifice, and exceeding joy? How can you put apathy to death?
- Are you in any way like King Herod who felt “troubled” or “disturbed” by the way that Jesus’ presence could mean the end of his throne? Is there any area of our life that you will not surrender fully to Jesus’ rule because you want to stay “king” in that area?
- How would your life look different if you fully trusted that God orders the whole universe and that nothing can stop his plan? Are you ever tempted to micromanage God’s work concerning you or your family/friends?
Help me pursue you with all my heart, surrendering every area of my life, sacrificing anything, risking anything, to love and worship you. Help me to behold your glory, to see that you are worthy, and to let go of every worldly thing that I grip too tightly. And as I follow you, help me to trust you fully with everything because no detail in the world is outside of your command and nothing at all can stop your plans.
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