17 September 2013

Matthew 2:1-12

“Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” (v. 2)


Yesterday's passage concerned the person and the agenda of the Son of God being revealed first to two humble Jews, Mary and Joseph. Today's reading from Matthew 2 is about Jesus being revealed to Gentile representatives of the rich and learned. It is an early indication in Matthew's Gospel that God's chosen leader will reach far beyond the 'chosen people' of the Old Testament. The message of God's anointed one, Christ or Messiah, is for all people.

Nevertheless, Jesus will be born a Jew, grow up as a Jew, and be firmly rooted in Jewish society. Matthew's Gospel, possibly written in Palestine for Jewish Christians living alongside other Jews, is intentional in trying to make bridges of understanding between believers and non-believers. Here the wise men visiting the new-born baby in Bethlehem is an illustration of the 'kingship' of Jesus. Bethlehem was the birthplace of King David, and Joseph and Mary were there for the census (Luke 2:1-4) because of Joseph's Davidic descent. The genealogy of Matthew 1:1-17 has already authenticated this descent from a royal line. The wise men from the East, arriving in Jerusalem, then reinforce this idea of royalty by asking, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?" Well, that certainly upset King Herod's apple cart!

Kingship is a key emphasis for Matthew's Gospel, who which writes about the 'kingdom of God', although usually calls it 'kingdom of heaven' (eg Matthew 3:2) because his mainly Jewish readers would have avoided using the name of God. Many Jews believed that God's kingdom would come and there would be punishment for God's enemies; whereas Jesus said that the kingdom had started now, because he as king was present. Every time we say the Lord's Prayer, we repeat the truth that the reign of God, the kingdom, is present. Matthew's Gospel further tells of God's sovereignty as it relates the story of the king's right to judge (Matthew 25:31-46) and also the delegation of his kingly authority to his disciples in Matthew 28:16-20.

God's chosen leader has authority over our everyday lives, whoever we are, and whichever country we live in. He is sovereign. He is our king.

To Ponder

  • God is sovereign. Knowing that, what difference does it make to your daily life?
  • Do you believe God's kingdom is present? If so, look out for God's glimpses of glory today - and perhaps tell someone else about them! 

Bible notes author

Michael King

Michael King is a Methodist local preacher. From 2000-2011, he was leader of the Methodist Church's World Church Relationships team, and was the vice-president of the Methodist Conference in 2012/2013.