August 26, 2013

Scripture and Commentary, Tuesday after the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity

Morning – Psalm 16, 2 Sam. 12:15-23, 2 Cor. 2
Evening – Psalm 13, 14, Mt. 2:1-12

Commentary, Matthew 2:1-12

The origin of the wise men is unknown.  Many have concluded they were Babylonians, whose forefathers learned about the expected Messiah while the Jews were in captivity there in 536 B.C.  It is certainly true that the Babylonian wise men had ample opportunity to learn about God during the life and ministry of the prophet Daniel.  But the wise men are not the real point of tonight’s reading.  The real point is the question asked by the wise men, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? (Mt. 2:2).  This question is an affirmation of one of the primary points of Matthew’s Gospel; Jesus Christ is King of the Jews.  In other words, this Jesus, born in Bethlehem, resident of Nazareth, and killed on the cross, is the Messiah.  Thus, He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures, and He is the Saviour of all who believe in Him in Biblical faith.  The wise men’s question is used by Matthew to make a theological statement.  It is what Matthew wants to say to the Jews.  But, instead of saying it himself, Matthew lets the wise men say it for him.  Jesus is King of the Jews.

But Jesus is no mere human being, and the wise men did not come to Bethlehem to do homage to a Jewish empire builder.  They came to worship God.  The Greek word for worship is said by Arndt and Gingich to mean to prostrate oneself and kiss the feet of a person, the hem of his garment, or even the ground he stands on.  They also say the Persians, who took over the Babylonian Empire, worshiped their deified kings in this way.  The Greeks, who took over the Persian Empire, worshiped their gods and holy things in this way.  The wise men were from somewhere in the area once ruled by the Babylonians, Persians, and Greeks, so their worshiping Christ is a clear indication of Christ’s deity.  These wise men recognized and worshiped Christ as God.

This point is reiterated in the words of the prophet Micah.  Asked where the Christ should be born, the scribes quote Micah 5:2 which states that the Governor, or, Ruler, of Israel will be born in Bethlehem.  But this ruler is unlike all others.  His “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”  This Ruler is from the everlasting realm.  He, Himself is everlasting.  He is God.

The scribes’ answer also recalls a few words from Isaiah, which expand the nature and work of this Governor.  Isaiah says He is also called “Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”  These are attributes of God, indicating again the Divine nature of the Ruler born in Bethlehem.  “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and justice from henceforth even forever” (Is. 9:7).

This causes us to remember one of the primary points of Matthew’s Gospel; Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament.  Therefore, He is the Messiah.  The worship and words of the wise men prove this.  The Scriptures testify to its truth.  Therefore, let us believe in Him.