The Scriptorium

Trouble for the World

Not everyone sees Jesus' coming as Good News. Matthew 2.1-8

Matthew 2: A King is Born (2)

Pray Psalm 2.11, 12.
Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

Sing joyously Psalm 2.11, 12.
(Agincourt: O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High!)
Rejoice with fear in Jesus’ grace, and worship before His exalted face!
Beware His anger and judgment grim: How blessed are all who rest in Him!

Read Matthew 2.1-8

Prepare.
1. How did Herod respond to the news of Christ’s birth?

2. According to the “chief priests and scribes of the people”, why did Christ come?

Meditate.
Herod was “troubled” by the news that a “King of the Jews” had been born. And when Herod was troubled about something, the people he ruled became troubled as well. Herod was an unstable and violent man, who was not above taking extreme measures when he felt his authority was being challenged.

Here is a theme that will run throughout the gospel of Matthew, and that continues throughout the course of the Kingdom’s coming on earth: Wicked people do not find the Good News of Jesus good at all. It challenges their autonomy and threatens their settled way of life. It is for them a fragrance of death to death (2 Cor. 2.15, 16), and they will resist it with all their power. We must not lose sight of this fact.

Matthew continues anchoring his narrative in the deep waters of the Old Testament by reporting the answer of the priests and scribes to Herod’s query concerning the place of the Christ’s birth. Their ready reply, quoting Micah 5.2, indicates that expectation of Christ’s coming was in the air at this time. People understood the message of the prophets, albeit imperfectly. The teachers of Israel taught this to the people, and the people doubtless talked about it with one another, and longed for it in their souls. As we shall see, they were not expecting a King like Jesus, but one who would deliver them from captivity to the Romans and restore the greatness of their nation. This misguided thinking would make it difficult for many to accept the claims of Jesus.

Herod wanted to know when the star first appeared, announcing the birth of the King, so that he could get a general idea of how old the Child was – information he would put to nefarious and deadly use, as we shall see. He sent the Magi to Bethlehem to complete their mission, but insisted they return to give him the details concerning the whereabouts of the Child. Of course, he had no intention of worshiping Christ, but only of destroying Him.

It is interesting to note in verses 3-8 how “King” and “Christ” were conflated in the minds of Jewish leaders. The King Who was to be born in Bethlehem would be the Christ, the Anointed One of Psalm 2, Who would come to rule His people and all the nations (cf. Ps. 49.8-12). This much they understood; yet they could not understand – and would not accept – the manner of His conquering and rule. Jesus came as a Shepherd; the Jewish leaders were looking for a military champion, like David. Their view of the coming King was colored by Israel’s past and by their perception of what would be needed to overthrow Rome. They understood just enough of the Scriptures to develop a misguided notion about the coming King. They should have read and meditated on more of the Old Testament, for they might have learned to look for a Shepherd/King rather than a Warrior/King. Here’s a lesson for us: Make sure you have searched the Scriptures thoroughly before you decide your view on anything at all. Let the Scriptures shape your views, and don’t use the Scriptures selectively to support your ideas.

Reflect.
1. What does it mean that Christ came to “rule” as a “Shepherd”?

2. Meditate on Micah 5.2-5. The priests and scribes omitted some of this in reporting to Herod. What did they fail to tell him?

3. Why is it important that we understand the Gospel will always “trouble” some people?

When Herod learned of the birth of our King, he resorted to crafty means to prevent his earthly kingdom from being endangered. He demanded that it be reported to him where the child was to be found. Pretending that he wished to worship him, he would have destroyed him if only he could find him. But of what avail is human malice against the divine plan?
Gregory the Great (540-604), Forty Gospel Homilies 10.2

Lord Jesus, I worship You as King and Christ! Use me today in advancing Your rule as I…

Pray Psalm 2.1-10.
Christ is going forth today, conquering and to conquer, advancing His Kingdom, putting His enemies under His feet, and bringing many new sons and daughters into the household of the Lord. Pray that He may do so today through you.

Sing Psalm 2.1-10.
Psalm 2.1-10  (Agincourt: O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High!)
Why do the nations vainly rage, conspiring together from age to age?
Earth’s kings and all of their counselors stand against the Lord and His Right Hand:

“Now let us cast His yoke below, His Kingdom authority overthrow!
Throw off His Law, reject His Word; no more be governed by this Lord!”

The Lord in heaven laughs in wrath at all who embark on this cursèd path.
His angry Word to them is plain: “Yet shall My King in Zion reign!”

Proclaim the message far and wide, that God has exalted the Crucified!
From heav’n He sent us His only Son, Who has for us salvation won!

To Christ the Lord be given all who humbly embrace Him and on Him call.
Be wise, be warned: His judgment comes to break the prideful, sinful ones.

T. M. Moore

The Gospel of Matthew will help us grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Two companion books can supplement our study of Matthew. To Know Him examines what it means to belong to Jesus and to love and serve Him (click here), while Be Thou My Vision enables us to gain an even larger perspective on Jesus (click here).

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

 

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore