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Celebrating with JOY

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Matthew 2:1-12

Exegetical Working Paper


David L Peterson IV

Fuller Theological Seminary

Master of Arts in Global Leadership

NS500: Gospels and Acts

Tommy Givens

Winter 2012





THE ADMONITION___________________________________________________________4



CENTRIPETAL AND CENTRIFUGAL____________________________________________5

APPLICATION IS FORGIVENESS_______________________________________________6


At the heart of worship is a heart that is made right in His sight. God forgives; therefore, Christians must forgive others because they will know God and be known by God (1 John 4:7-8). Love does not show hatred. It sends rain, food, and shelter to all even to those whom may be considered enemies. How can this be made possible? It comes from more then a understanding. It comes when God’s Spirit is abiding, dwelling, and making the person cry out holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come!

In the gospel of Matthew those that have eyes to see, and hears to hear are able to see how the Sovereign and triune God of the universe became the Incarnation that brought emancipation into the world that whosoever would believe, be baptized, and confess Jesus Christ as Lord will be saved! In other words the Spirit of the triune God embodied the mother of Jesus so that she became pregnant and was able to give birth to the Son of God the second Person of the triunity.


Matthew begins his gospel stating that it is a record about Jesus. Matthew is careful to show that Jesus Christ was an earthly decedent from king David. In doing so he ties Jesus’ ancestry to the Jews. Matthew demonstrates in this gospel how Jesus is both the Son of God and the Son of man. According to Matthew Jesus is Devine because Mary was a virgin that was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is also human because He was brought to earth by means of a woman. It would not be right to call this the Immaculate Conception because the focus should not be on Mary but on Jesus because He alone had no sin and only Jesus is able to provide atonement for sin. The birth narrative would have been quite amazing to the ears of the Jews living at this time in history. For example, when Matthew says that Jesus was the son of David, the son of Abraham they would have understood that Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah, and his brothers.

Joseph, Mary’s husband is comparable to Jesus in both a human and divine way. For example Jesus was righteous in everything He did. Joseph was righteous in how he treated Mary. For example when finding out that Mary’s was child child was not his. The self denial of Jesus which Pau writes about is comparable to Joseph’s actions. “While we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). Joseph honored Mary. He could have allowed her to be immersed in shame, disgrace, even possible death because of what the law says (Deuteronomy 22:20-21). Joseph kept the matter of Mary’s pregnancy to himself. The way that Mary was saved is symbolic to what Jesus did in taking up the sins of the world . Long before the incarnation the prophet Isaiah alluded to this (Isaiah 53:12).


What is meant by the word Incarnation? Matthew simply says Jesus was born but what does this imply? In the case of Jesus’ birth narrative it is the embodiment of Deity in earthly form. In other words it means the sovereign and triune God coming to earth in the form of a baby! The Synoptic gospels each relate this story a little differently, for example.

“The Gospel of Mark has no account of the Incarnation and stresses Jesus’ messiahship more than his deity.” 1

Similar to Matthew but unlike Mark, John affirms the deity of Christ. This is because John along with Matthew were eyewitnesses to the things that Jesus said and did. John begins his gospel “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (1:1). He then moves throughout the rest of his gospel to prove theologically through signs that Jesus Christ was, and is, and is to come. John will wait until nearly the end of his gospel to share with his readers why he writes. And then when he does it happens to be a duel purpose (John 20:30–31). In light of this John is implicit as to why he writes while Matthew’ purpose is a little different, for example.

Matthew and Luke express the Incarnation but Luke’s focus is more so on the divine Savior within history then the human side of Jesus. Matthew emphasizing Jesus’ royal messiahship, humanity, lordship (Matthew 23:6–10) and divine sonship. The Incarnation thus becomes the means whereby the divine becomes human in a universal sense (1:23; 18:20; 24:14; 28:18–20). Philippians 2:5-11 is another place in the New Testament that speaks of the Incarnation, and Hebrews 1:1-3 strongly affirms It!


The birth of Jesus brings joy for some and rage to others. How right and appropriate it would have been for all the world to bow down and worship the King of kings and Lord of lords in light of the Incarnation but this is not what happens. The Messiah’s birth has caused joy for some and rage for others! The Magi demonstrate great joy and king Herod demonstrates rage! The Magi’s joy is best exemplified by the three of them falling down with their faces to the floor. This is an act of reverence, humility, and adoration that comes into the New Testament as the word “worship.” In the literal sense many people bowed to “worship” Jesus; in Matthew alone we witness the wise men (2:11), a leper (8:2), the father of a dying girl (9:18), the mother of a demonized girl (15:25), a pleading mother (20:20), and women who clung to his feet after he arose (28:9). Typically, they “fell to the ground and worshiped him.”

Contrasted with this idea of worship is rage. King Herod has all the boys living in Bethlehem that are two years old slaughtered (Matthew 2:16-18). “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” This is what the Magi asked. This must have threatened king Herod’s power and prestige because he visualized himself as king of the Jews. The power structures of this world are shaken even at Jesus‘ birth! Some are in great delight because of Jesus and others are enraged.

Matthew 2:11 (TNIV)

11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Matthew tells his audience that they brought gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh. The writer to the Romans picks up on the theme of offering when he says “present your bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Another example of giving to Jesus is the widow's mite (Mark 12:41-44).


Matthew 2:6 and the prophet Micah 5:2 speak about the importance of Bethlehem. For example, Bethlehem was the birth place of king David and King Jesus, and it means “house of bread.” Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell their audiences that Jesus fed multitudes (Matthew 14 and 15). God provided manna in the desert in the time of the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 13:31). In Bethlehem God has shown that He is Provider. Physically he gives bread for sustenance of the human body, and spiritually He has given the bread of life (John 6:48). If he cares for the birds of the air how much more will He for all people. This is what Matthew is trying to get across (Genesis 1; 2; Matthew 6:26). Thus Bethlehem is symbolic of God as sustainer and provider. In both a physical and eschatological sense. The Sovereign and triune God of the universe has provided for all people since the beginning of time, and continues until His kingdom is fully established on earth as it is in Heaven.


The gospel story and all of life hinges on what we see the Magi doing but who were these “wise men?” These were those practicing magic (Daniel 2:2). Knowingly or not these Magi were fulfilling what the prophet Isaiah has foretold, and were a foreshadow of later Gentile inclusion (Isaiah 60:3). The story of Cornelius, a centurion is reminiscent of the Magi and God’s inclusion (Acts 10:). Think back to what was said about Bethlehem and how God is reaching out to the Magi. Now think about what Jesus has said about loving our enemies. Perhaps in loving the enemy, the Holy Spirit will bring Light to those in darkness!

Matthew 5:45 (TNIV)

45that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.


The Sovereign and triune God acts in ways that are both centripetal and centrifugal for example. God calls people so that he may bless them in order that they may go out and be a blessing to others. Prior to the birth of Jesus God had mostly been centripetal in nature but with the onslaught of Joseph and his family He takes on a more centrifugal quality. Psalm 95 helps us visualize the centripetal nature of God’s kingdom, and Matthew 28:18-20 tells us how to go about the kingdom in a centrifugal way.

In Isaiah 49:6; 56, and 61 is the centrifugal nature of God in the way he commissions Isaiah as a light o the Gentiles but in Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi he is more centripetal because he still has more work to do in making a name for himself among the nations and also in making preparations for Jesus. How might God be acting in the world today, and whom is He calling and sending?


Matthew 2:6 (TNIV)

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.’”

The quote that Matthew gives is significant and applicable because of it’s context in the days of Micah the prophet (Micah 5:2). Micah is sent to the super power of his day. Similar to Isaiah he admonishes the people of God to turn their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks (Isaiah 2 :4). Jesus best exemplified this when the 12 disciples came and asked how they should pray.

Matthew 6:9–13 (TNIV)

9“This, then, is how you should pray:

“ ‘Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

10your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

11Give us today our daily bread.

12And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one.’

Worship is! Kenny Boles the Greek professor at Ozark Christian College helps define the meaning of this event for example, the Magi, those that were before them, and all that will follow. At the heart of worship is an inner spirit bowing in humble adoration before the Creator. It is the attitude of the Psalmist, who said, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker” (95:6).

“Go, tell it on the mountain,

Over the hills and everywhere

Go, tell it on the mountain,

That Jesus Christ is born.”

Go Tell it on the Mountain is one of my favorite Christmas songs. Joy is overflowing when God works in the heart of someone that He has created in His image. And the normal response to this joy is worship of the Creator that becomes evident to all. This happened with the Magi, it happened in the life of the demon possessed man from Gadara (Matthew 8:28-34). Later in the Book of Acts when the apostles returned to Gadara they find it converted to Christ! I hope all our hearts are right in God’s sight when Jesus comes back once and for all!

Revelation 4:8 (TNIV)

8Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“ ‘Holy, holy, holy

is the Lord God Almighty,’

who was, and is, and is to come.”

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