Saturday, September 25, 2021

Matthew 2 - Homiletics

Matthew 2 is the tale of two kings and some wise men.  It begins with the birth of the King of kings.  After which the magi from the West came to Israel and inquired of king Herod about the birth of the King of the Jews.  This disturbed Herod since, technically, he was crowned “the king of the Jews” by the Roman Senate in 40 BCE.  It apparently disturbed all of Jerusalem as well.  But this got Herod thinking, and he went to the chief priests and teachers of the law and inquired about where the Messiah would be born.  They informed Herod that the Scriptures indicated the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem according to the prophet Micah (Mic 5:2).

So, Herod gave that information to the magi and asked them to return to him after they found the Child and tell him where the Child was so Herod could worship Him, too.  We’ll learn Herod’s true intentions in just a moment.

Meanwhile, the magi travel on, following a star that guided them straight to Jesus and His mother at their house.  The overjoyed magi bowed and worshiped and presented the King with gifts of gold (a symbol of kingship) and frankincense (a symbol of deity) and myrrh (an embalming oil, symbolic of death).  After their visit, they are warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they went back home by another route.

Meanwhile, an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him to take his family to Egypt because Herod wants to kill Jesus!  So Joseph packs up and goes and moves to Egypt.  During this time, Herod became furious that he was tricked by the magi and issued an order to kill all the boys age 2 and under.  This event is called the slaughter of the innocents or the massacre of the innocents.  And there is no historical record of it from the first century outside of Scripture.  So I asked myself, “why not?”  What I discovered was interesting.

First of all, children were not valued in that culture at that time in history, so it possibly wasn’t really newsworthy.  Second, the population of that area wasn’t as large as it is today, so very few children were probably executed, possibly escaping notice of historians.  Also, Josephus Flavius, a first century AD historian, may not have chronicled the killing of the 2 year old boys in and around Bethlehem around 3 BCE, but he does record Herod’s wickedness including a number of murders in response to a perceived threat to his throne.  So such a response to a rumor about the birth of the “King of the Jews” was absolutely possible considering the character – or lack of character – attributed to Herod.

There is actually a testimony of the slaughter of the innocents from around 400 AD from Macrobius’ Saturnalia (2.f.11), which says, “when Augustus had heard, that among the children within two years of age, which Herod king of the Jews commanded to be slain in Syria, his own son had been killed, he said: ‘It is better to be Herod’s hog than his son.’”

There is a lesson in this for us today:  insecurity can cause really bad decisions.  We not only see this in Herod’s life.  Take a look at the Old Testament life of king Saul.  There was another dangerously insecure king!  And now, back to the Scriptures…

So Joseph’s family remained in Egypt until he received word again in a dream to return to Israel after Herod’s death.  But Joseph was afraid because Archelaus was reigning in Herod’s place.  He received another warning in a dream and settled in Galilee, in Nazareth.  I love Joseph’s sensitivity to God and his obedience to God’s instruction.  I love God’s care for Jesus and Mary and Joseph to warn the magi to avoid Herod and go home a different way.  I love that God warned Joseph in a dream to go to Egypt and told him when it was safe to come back and where to settle.  God is in the details!  How have you seen Him in the details of your life?  What keeps you motivated to seek God when He seems difficult to find?  Where are you fighting God rather than submitting to Him and what will lead you to repent and ultimately submit to His plan for your life?


(Below is the homiletics that led me to the thoughts above.)


Content (not sentence, direct verbiage from Scripture, fit on one line):

1.after J born, magi came: where king of Jews?(2:1-2)

2.King Herod heard, was disturbed, and all Jerus(2:3)

3.called chief priests & teachers law, asked where Messiah born(2:4)

4.Bethlehem, prophet: Bethlehem, out you come ruler shepherd Israel(2:5-6)

5.Herod found out exact time star appeared; sent them Beth,find him, report me, I go worship(2:7-8)

6.they went, star went ahead, stopped where child was; they saw star, overjoyed(2:9-10)

7.they saw child w/mother, bowed & worshiped, presented gold, frankincense, myrrh(2:11)

8.warned dream go Herod,ret’d country by another route(2:12)


9.aoL appeared Joseph dream,escape Egypt, Herod search child to kill(2:13)

10.he took child, mother, left;stayed until death Herod, fulfilled proph:out of Egypt called son(2:14-15)

11.Herod realized outwitted, furious, gave orders kill boys 2y & under(2:16)

12.proph Jeremiah fulfilled: Rachel weeping for children(2:17-18)

13.after Herod died,aoL appeared dream Jos:go Israel;he got up, took child/mother, went Israel(2:19-21)

14.heard Archelaus reigning,afraid,warned dream, withdrew Galilee(2:22)

15.lived Naz, fulfilled prophets, he called Nazarene(2:23)


Divisions (run-on sentence OK, direct verbiage from Scripture/Principles are Aims for each Division – a truth about God, a truth about man, a truth about God’s relationship to man; a sin to avoid, promise to trust, example to follow, command to obey, truth to believe):

1.The magi seek and find the Messiah (Matt 2:1-12)

Principle:  Those who seek God with a pure heart, find Him.

2.Joseph obeys God and flees to Egypt, and later obediently settles in Nazareth (Matt 2:13-23)

Principle:  Obedience to God fulfills His plan.


Subject Sentence (10-word sentence with proper structure showing exactly where you are in Scripture):

Magi find and worship Messiah; Joseph flees and returns obediently.


Aim (“To Cause My Audience To…” Know, See, Learn, Understand, etc.):

TCMATK God’s people seek and obey His will.


Application (not yes or no question.  Meant to bring about heart change):

1.What keeps you motivated to seek after God when He seems hard to find?

2.Where are you fighting God rather than obeying Him?  What will lead you to repent and submit?


The Big Idea (author’s main purpose in writing; the one thing all the other things in the passage is about; if you couldn’t talk about it, you would still understand the passage is trying to convey this):

Seek and obey God.

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