And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:11
1. The wise men come to Jerusalem looking for Jesus.
2. They follow the star to Bethlehem.
3. They present gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus and worship Him.
4. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus escape to Egypt, while Herod kills all the babies in Bethlehem and the surrounding area.
5. After Herod dies, the family settles in Nazareth.
Verses 13–23. Observe in this passage, how true it is that the rulers of this world are seldom friendly to the cause of God. The Lord Jesus comes down from heaven to save sinners, and at once we are told that Herod the king “sought to destroy him.”
Greatness and riches are a perilous possession for the soul. They know not what they seek who seek to have them. They lead men into many temptations. They are likely to fill the heart with pride, and to chain the affections down to things below. “Not many mighty, not many noble are called.” “How hardly shall a rich man enter the kingdom of God.”
Do you envy the rich and great? Does your heart say, “Oh! that I had their place, and rank, and substance?” Beware of giving way to the feeling. The very wealth which you admire may be gradually sinking its possessor down into hell. A little more money might be your ruin. Like Herod you might run into every excess of wickedness and cruelty. “Take heed, and beware of covetousness.” “Be content with such things as you have.”
Do you think that Christ’s cause depends on the power and patronage of princes? You are mistaken. They have seldom done much for the advancement of true religion. They have far more frequently been the enemies of the truth. “Put not your trust in princes.” Those who are like Herod are many. Those who are like Josiah and Edward the Sixth of England are few.
Observe how the Lord Jesus was “a man of sorrows” even from His infancy. Trouble awaits Him as soon as He enters into the world. His life is in danger from Herod’s hatred. His mother and Joseph are obliged to take Him away by night, and “flee into Egypt.” It was only a type and figure of all His experience upon earth. The waves of humiliation began to beat over Him, even when He was a nursing child.
The Lord Jesus is just the Savior that the suffering and sorrowful need. He knows well what we mean, when we tell Him in prayer of our troubles. He can sympathize with us, when we cry to Him under cruel persecution. Let us keep nothing back from Him. Let us make Him our bosom friend. Let us pour out our hearts before Him. He has had great experience of affliction.
Observe how death can remove the kings of this world like other men. The rulers of millions have no power to retain life, when the hour of their departure comes. The murderer of helpless infants must himself die. Joseph and Mary hear the tidings that “Herod is dead;” and at once they return in safety to their own land.
True Christians should never be greatly moved by the persecution of man. Their enemies may be strong, and they may be weak; but still they ought not to be afraid. They should remember that “the triumphing of the wicked is but short.” What has become of the Pharaohs and Neros and Diocletians, who at one time fiercely persecuted the people of God? They did their utmost to cast the truth down to the ground. But the truth rose again from the earth, and still lives; and they are dead, and rotting in the grave. Let not the heart of any believer fail. Death is a mighty leveler, and can take any mountain out of the way of Christ’s church. “The Lord liveth” forever. His enemies are only men. The truth shall always prevail.
Observe, in the last place, what a lesson of humility is taught us by the dwelling place of the Son of God, when He was on earth. He dwelt with His mother and Joseph “in a city called Nazareth.” Nazareth was a small town in Galilee. It was an obscure, retired place, not so much as once mentioned in the Old Testament. Hebron, and Shiloh, and Gibeon, and Bethel, were far more important places. But the Lord Jesus passed by them all, and chose Nazareth. This was humility.
In Nazareth the Lord Jesus lived thirty years. It was there He grew up from infancy to childhood, and from childhood to boyhood, and from boyhood to youth, and from youth to man’s estate. We know little of the manner in which those thirty years were spent. That He was “subject to Mary and Joseph,” we are expressly told. That He worked in the carpenter’s shop with Joseph, is highly probable. We only know, that almost five sixths of the time that the Savior of the world was on earth was passed among the poor of this world, and passed in complete retirement. Truly this was humility.
Let us learn wisdom from our Savior’s example. We are far too ready to “seek great things’’ in this world. Let us seek them not. To have a place, and a title, and a position in society, is not nearly so important as people think. It is a great sin to be covetous, and worldly, and proud, and carnal-minded. But it is no sin to be poor. It matters not so much where we live, as what we are in the sight of God. Where are we going when we die? Shall we live forever in heaven? These are the main things to which we should attend.
Above all, let us daily strive to copy our Savior’s humility. Pride is the oldest and commonest of sins. Humility is the rarest and most beautiful of graces. For humility let us labor. Let us pray for humility. Our knowledge may be scanty. Our faith may be weak. Our strength may be small. But if we are disciples of Him who “lived in Nazareth,” let us at any rate be humble.
1. What are the themes of chapters 1 and 2?
2. Whom did Herod kill in Bethlehem? Can you think of other instances where wicked kings have tried to kill babies?
3. Give several examples of Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in this chapter.
4. What were the three gifts the wise men presented Jesus?
5. What is the significance of the wise men coming to visit Jesus?
1. What is our perspective of persecution? Is there persecution in our land today, or might there be persecution to come some time in the future? How would we handle it?
2. Are we a humble family? In what ways might we better emulate Christ in humility?