(Today's post by Joshua Jones)
In this second chapter, Matthew jumps right into the life of Christ. Interestingly, he skips the picture that comes to mind for many of us when we think of the birth of Jesus. In his account, he skips the baby in a manger, and fast-forwards to the little town of Bethlehem.
The climax of this chapter is the “wise men from the east” that came to worship the one who had been born “king of the Jews.” These men had followed a star seeking Jesus, and interestingly enough, they came to the current political king of the area, King Herod. Hearing from these men that the prophesied Messiah had been born, and fearing the loss of his throne, Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem, under the ruse that he wanted to know where the child was so he could worship him as well. Finding Jesus, the wise men worshipped him and gave him extravagant gifts. Warned by an angel not to return to Herod, they returned back to their own country.
After this, an angel appeared to Joseph warning him to take his family to Egypt, as Herod was going to have all male children in the region two years old and younger killed in order to try and protect his reign from the coming Messiah. The family fled to Egypt until Herod had died, when an angel appeared once again, and the family moved to Nazareth to live.
Now, we can write for days on end about this chapter, asking questions such as “Who were the wise men?”, “Where did they come from?”, “Is there a significance to the gifts that were given?” and much more. (There is so much history to jump into in the Bible, and I encourage you to investigate it on your own!) However, as I read through this chapter, I was struck by how Matthew consistently points out that these exact situations fulfilled prophecies of the coming Messiah. Matthew, being a Jewish tax-collector before his conversion, understood the significance of the Old Testament prophets. The men who had come hundreds of years before had spoke of a coming Messiah; one who would save the people of God and restore his kingdom. This child who was born in a manger fulfilled each one of those prophecies. Jesus was the Messiah the Israelites had been promised.
God never forgets his promises. The Israelites had waited centuries, and just when the time was right, God delivered. He who has promised is faithful to complete that promise.