Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Matthew Part 3 (2:1-12)
We had a good time discussing this chapter for it can be very challenging in my opinion. Again, we are just reading through the gospel and discovering together. I could probably write for a very long time about this chapter, but I am going to try and make this brief. We will see.
The author goes into some great detail about visitors “from the east” to visit this new born king. The Magi, or traditionally, the three wise men come to worship the new born king and they come bearing gifts… gold, incense, and Myrrh. Very strange gifts to bring to a new born baby! Especially when Myrrh was commonly known as embalming fluid. Imagine someone bringing embalming fluid as a baby shower gift.
This story is odd if you really think about it… The author of Matthew is writing this account anywhere from 50-90 years after it took place, and yet is very detailed in things like what the magi say to king Herod, and the gift they bring. I think it is worth mentioning that Luke’s account mentions nothing about these visitors. So we had to ask a few questions… Why does the author think it necessary to include this story? Did these events really happen, and if so, did they happen exactly the way Matthew records them and how would that be possible? where did the star come from? Was the star an actual star?
As we discussed all the possibilities, we tried to look at what the author could be trying to get across with his story. The author wants us to know that the Magi were from the East. In other words, it is a great possibility that they were not Jewish but rather Gentiles. AND THEY HAD COME TO WORSHIP. This would have definitely stuck out to Matthew’s Jewish audience. As the Gentiles were coming to worship the Jews were rejecting the baby king. (v. 3) Maybe it is possible that the author is using this story as a picture of how this child made a way for the Gentiles into the Kingdom of Heaven.?. Is this story literal and factual? Does it matter? Is there a bigger picture that the author is portraying?
Then we get to the gifts they bring. Most of the time we see these gifts as symbols… gold= kingship or royalty. Incense= priesthood, and Myrrh= the Messiah’s humanity or represents his death. This very well could be the case. Maybe this is what the author had in mind when writing. However, there are other possibilities… One I find most interesting is the fact that there is only one other time when all three gifts are mentioned in scripture. In Exodus 30, it describes the alter of incense. It was to be built of wood and then GOLD plated. Then the priest was to “fragrant” incense on the alter every morning. Then the priest was to make myrrh into an anointing oil to sprinkle over the alter.
So here in the first part of the second chapter we read a story about Gentiles coming to worship the Savior while the Jews reject him. Then we have a possible call back to the priesthood. Its as if the author is trying to get his audience to see that things are changing, new people are welcomed into the Kingdom of God, and in order for this to happen, Jesus is bringing a new priesthood into existence.