As we continue our advent series, what do stars in the sky, the murder of Israelite babies, and Christmas have in common? We turn to the second chapter of Matthew for the answer. The evangelist Matthew provides us with the details of this bazar story surrounding the birth of baby Jesus.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, a strange start appeared in the sky. Today, it appears in songs or on the stage during a Christmas drama scene. As we reference the story from the pages of the Bible, we see that it was used to direct the wise men to the place of Jesus’ birth. Far too often, the details of this mystery star take center stage while the real star remains back stage. In fact, the real star of the story is Jesus, not this mysterious star that appeared over the location of Jesus like a GPS pin marking the spot of His birth. What we can be sure of is that the star was created by God and served its purpose. The purpose was to point to the incarnation of Jesus – God in human flesh.
As we continue to read, we see a horrible twist in the story of Jesus’ birth. A wicked king named Herod wasn’t too pleased that the wise men arrived speaking about the “king of the Jews” when in fact, Herod himself had already taken that title upon himself. This earthly king was offended. He felt threatened. He devised a plan. He said to these wise men, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him” (Matthew 2:8). That was a lie! Herod had no intention of worshipping this new born King. He had murder rather than worship on his mind.
The wise men went and eventually located baby Jesus. By this time, most scholars agree that Jesus was somewhere between 6 months and 2 years of age. Matthew 2:11-12 records the following information regarding their discovery of Jesus:
And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.  And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
This did not please the jealous Herod, so he did the unthinkable. He went after the children. Matthew 2:16, “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.”
As we continue to read the rest of the story, we see that in Matthew 2:19-23, after Herod died a message was given by an angel to the parents of Jesus to bring Him to Nazareth because the threat was now over. Jesus had been spared. The plan of redemption was not stopped by the evil attack. The story of Christmas continued each step toward the cross where the Son of God would become the Lamb of God in order to save sinners for the glory of God.
This is the message of Christmas!
Pastor Josh Buice
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For more information on advent, please see the first article in this series: