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Gospel according to Matthew 2: 1-12 (NIV)
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Do you wonder why Matthew, one of Jesus’ disciples, was led by the Holy Spirit to include this account in the Gospel attributed to him?
Scholars consider that Matthew wrote for a Jewish readership. He made frequent references to how the Hebrew Scriptures were fulfilled. He demonstrated a sensitivity towards Jewish readers, for example in that he usually referred to “the kingdom of heaven” rather than to “the kingdom of God”. He did not explain the meanings of Hebrew customs in the way that the evangelist Mark did.
Matthew described the visit of the wise men to the infant Jesus and his mother to Jewish readers because these wise men were Gentiles.
The Jews had been expecting a Messiah. In the Gospel according to Luke, the “righteous and devout” man Simeon was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (2: 25). According to Jewish expectations this Messiah would bring about Israel’s “comfort” or release from subjugation by foreign powers. But Simeon, guided by the Holy Spirit, was able to see that Jesus was also to be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles” (2: 32).
In Jesus was fulfilment of what had been spoken of by the prophet Isaiah (49: 6):
It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
The Gospel according to Matthew tells us that, when the wise men located Jesus with his mother, “they were overjoyed”. They were eager to accept the new way which Jesus introduced even if this meant rejecting their former ways of living.
Could this be said of you?
For 2019, resolve to laugh often!