Matthew 2 Gives Insight into the Birth of Christ and More

Understand the characters in Matthew 2

This devotional study on Matthew 2 is divided into 10 sections. The chapter gives insight on the birth of Christ and on what's going on with the wise men, Herod, and Joseph.

Section 1
Matthew 2:1-2
Marked: vs.2
Notes /Impressions:
  • There are no definite evidences as to the exact identities of these wise men and where they came from exactly. 
  • The only exact information we have of them is that they came from the east, they are not (3) kings, and they most probably traveled in a large group (for fear of robberies, most probably) for several weeks, over at least 800 miles (possibly more). A quite unusual sacrifice just to meet a child; unless they knew of Him more, and may have been also waiting for Him. 
  • There are several theories as to the identities of these wise men, but I believe the best fit could probably be that they are from Babylon. Some of the wise men of Babylon were actually serious seekers of the truth. It is possible that they learned of the Messiah from Daniel’s writings and teachings that have been passed down to the later generations. 
  • It is also possible that they are from Jewish descent, since there was a sizable number of Jews who stayed in Babylon.
Lesson(s) Learned:
  • The sacrifice these wise men made was quite unusual for mere curiosity or homage to a recently born Child King. Their sacrifice of time, effort, and treasures to meet Jesus is very much commendable.
  • Are we desirous enough, or motivated enough to know Jesus? Are we willing to sacrifice time, effort, and treasures just to know Him more? 

Section 2
Matthew 2:3
Marked: vs.3
Notes /Impressions:
  • The news about Christ was a “threat” to their way of life.
  • For Herod, he feared for his position as king.
  • For the Jews, they feared more cruel actions against them by Herod.
Lesson(s) Learned:    
  • People love to hold on to their status quo and comfort zones. Even Christians show this kind of attitude.
  • Living by faith (our devotion to Christ) will always cost us our comfort zones and break the status quo that we work so hard to protect.     
Section 3
Matthew 2:4-8
Marked: vs.4-5
Notes /Impressions:
  • The chief priests & the scribes knew exactly where Christ was going to be born. Why did they miss Him then? They did not even make any effort to confirm or check what the wise men were saying.
Lesson(s) Learned: 
  • We can be so familiar with truths from Scriptures and yet still miss the whole point of them, not experiencing them, or probably not knowing how they apply. We sometimes take these truths for granted, or wrongly interpret them because we are influenced by our present difficulties (like the Jews).
  • To know Scriptures is to know how and where it fits into our lives, training our sensitivities to its applications.
Section 4
Matthew 2:9-12
Marked verses: vs.10
Notes /Impressions:
  • The joy and eagerness of the wise men to worship Christ is in stark contrast to the indifference of the Jews and the hostility of Herod. 
Lesson(s) Learned:
  • The three reactions contrasted in the passage are common attitudes seen among people when it comes to Christ and the gospel:
(a) those afraid of how Christ may change their lives;
(b) those who ignore Christ altogether; and
(c) those who take Him with much joy and eagerness.
  • These attitudes are to be expected when you speak about Christ and the gospel. There's no surprise anymore in that.
  • The ones who take the time and effort to know Christ, and do so eagerly even if it costs them resources, are the ones who find true fulfillment and great joy.
Section 5
Matthew 2:13-15
Marked: vs.15
Notes /Impressions:
  • When you read verses 13-14 from a purely human perspective, the plan doesn’t seem to make good sense, considering it was God Himself directing things. Why would the Almighty God have His Son flee and hide, when He could’ve just easily dealt with them? 
Lesson(s) Learned:
  1. It is easy to question something we don’t fully understand. Many times we question God’s ways of dealing with us, thinking we know of better ways. We usually base our judgments on the obvious here-and-now purposes, while God is focused on His eternal purposes and the larger picture of things.  
  2. God’s ways of dealing with us and doing things are based on His plans. When we look at things from a larger perspective, we begin to see God’s perfect plan coming to reality.
Section 6
Matthew 2:16-18
Marked: vs.16
Notes /Impressions:
  • Some bible critics claim that this account never happened. Despite the lack of extrabiblical accounts in support of this account, still it is very much in character with what is known of Herod. 
  • His brutal slaughter of these children and his other atrocities didn’t go unpunished. He died a horrible death with his body rotting away, being consumed by worms. 
[(Const2014) Herod died in 4 B.C. Josephus recorded that he died a horrible death, his body rotting away and consumed by worms.]

Lesson(s) Learned:
  1. Why God allows such horrible atrocities is always a question people ask. But all these are ultimately consequences of sin in the world. And even in the midst of evil and its consequences, God continues to work out His plans. 
  2. Herod was a very evil person who died horribly. Evil deeds never go unpunished. God’s justice always renders the right judgment in its appointed time. 

Section 7
Matthew 2:19-23
Marked: vs.23
Notes /Impressions:
  • The circumstances here again are quite odd when you just read through vs.19-22. First they were told, through a dream, to go back to Israel. But upon hearing Herod’s son, Archelaus, was ruling, Joseph hesitates in fear (for Archelaus was also an evil ruler who had 3,000 killed in the temple, just because they honored the martyrs during Herod’s reign. And then, he is later told again through a dream to go to Nazareth instead.
  • There is no specific verse that clearly mentions a prophecy of Christ coming from Nazareth or becoming a Nazarene. But it seems the fulfillment actually points to passages that predict Him being despised (Ps.22:6-8, 13; 69:8, 20-21; Isa. 11:1; 42:1-4; 49:7; 53:2-3, 8; Dan. 9:26).
  •  Nazarenes were despised and rejected during this era (John 1:46). 
Lesson(s) Learned:
  1. Some of the circumstances Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were put into seem quite unnecessary, humanly speaking. Becoming a Nazarene (despised & rejected) adds even more to these. But though the details are not clear as to why these circumstances were needed, what’s crystal clear is, God is working out His plan for us, and He knows what is best for us.
  2. There’ll be times our questions regarding our situations will go unanswered. Nevertheless we have a God who knows exactly what we need and what is best for us.
  3. Why Christ had to to come from a despised and rejected group of people may be a puzzle to some, but here are a couple of things that give light as to why:
(a) This was the fulfilment of the prophecy that the Messiah will be despised and rejected (cf. Psalm 22 & Isaiah 53).  This is how other Jews felt about the Nazarenes.
(b) His humble childhood breaks all social barriers. First, it shows us His sacrificial love. Second, anyone can easily identify with and understand whenever He spoke of life’s struggles and difficulties because He spoke from experience.