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The Visit of the Magi October 11, 2017

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
Tags: , , , ,

Here are my thoughts on Matthew 2:1-12.

Summary: In this passage, Magi from an eastern land arrive in Jerusalem; they express their desire to worship the newborn “king of the Jews” and make inquiries concerning his whereabouts.

Upon learning of these inquiries, Herod the Great probes the Jewish ruling elite regarding the Old Testament prophecies of the birth of the Messiah. They inform him that Micah 5:2 predicts the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem.

Herod then:

  • sends the Magi to Bethlehem – so that they can fulfill their desire to worship the Messiah
  • orders them to report the whereabouts of the Messiah.

They travel to Bethlehem and find Jesus and Mary. They worship Jesus and present him with several gifts. Later, God warns them to avoid Herod on their homeward journey.

Thoughts: We now have consecutive passages in this gospel that each include a reference to the Old Testament. It is evident that one of Matthew’s goals in composing this gospel entailed proving to Jewish readers that the Old Testament was fulfilled by the person and work of Jesus Christ. Matthew was utterly convinced that the entire Old Testament pointed to the incarnation of Jesus. As modern-day readers, this fact should also strengthen and encourage us. Just as God fulfilled the promises of the Old Testament in the incarnation of His Son, so He will fulfill the promises of the entire Bible at the Second Coming.

Here, the actions of the Magi stand in sharp contrast to those of the Jewish ruling elite. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

Third, these verses show us that there may be knowledge of Scripture in the head, while there is no grace in the heart…We are told that they gave him a quick answer, and showed an accurate acquaintance with the letter of Scripture. But they never went to Bethlehem to seek the coming Saviour. They would not believe in him when he ministered among them. Their heads were better than their hearts.

Ryle’s thoughts resonated with me, as I definitely identify with the chief priests and teachers of the law in this passage. If I had lived in Judea during the life of Jesus Christ, I think that I would have been a Pharisee in Jerusalem; I would have been well-versed in the law and rather proud of my external acts of obedience. Here, though, Ryle rightly rebukes the Jewish ruling elite. This should spur me to consider the following question: how can I leverage my intellectual abilities to bring glory to God – and bless others – as opposed to delighting in “head knowledge” as an end in itself?


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