The King Identified
Introduction: As we know by now, because it has been presented to us by both Pastor Ken as well as by Pastor Greg, Matthew is presenting the coming of Jesus Christ as the coming of the King. Not just any king but the King over all kings. Jesus is the ultimate anointed King. That is why, after all, we call Him Jesus Christ. Jesus who is the Messiah, the very chosen King of God. He is the King of whom the Old Testament prophets prophesied, and they prophesied of Him in such a way as to eliminate anyone who might come and try to pass Himself off as the Messiah. What we have seen so far is that the king was to come out of Bethlehem.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”
The king did come from Bethlehem, born of a virgin-Mary, and the announcement of the coming of this chosen king was confirmed among multiple witnesses.
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
Simeon and Anna
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
And as an additional confirmation there were even wise men from the far East who had seen His star and came to worship Him and present to Him gifts that were worthy of a king.
The Second Identification
The Second Identification
Not everyone, however, rejoiced at this news. No sooner had the wise men departed than an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” So, like fugitives, Mary, Joseph, and the Child depart by night to Egypt in order to escape the wickedness of Herod.
Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”
The question for us is: why would Herod seek to destroy a child? At this point in Herod’s life to fear a child would have been just as irrational as your fear of that spider that lives in your kitchen sink. What we might not realize though is this: in his heart Herod knew that he was an illegitimate king. He was placed on the throne by Rome in order to keep the Pax Romana between the Jews and the Romans. The reality that Herod knew all too well was that he had no legal right to the throne. He was nothing more than a puppet king on the hand of an empire that only ruled over Judah due to the strength of their military. To top it all off Herod was an Edomite and not even a legitimate Jew so even the whisper of a legitimate rival to his illegitimate rule posed a threat to his power.
The New King James Version. (1982). (). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
However, little did Herod know that by seeking to harm the Child and forcing Joseph and his family to flee to Egypt he was actually adding legitimacy to this true King. To be sure, God could have protected His Son in numerous ways, even without leaving Bethlehem, but God chose to protect His Son through very ordinary means. “Joseph, the Child is in danger so I want you to flee to Egypt.” So by forcing this young family to flee Herod unknowingly fulfilled prophecy as the Old Testament prophet had written, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Amazingly, seven centuries earlier God told Hosea that “out of Egypt I called my Son.” Isn’t it amazing that before Herod ever even knew about Jesus’ existence God had not only thwarted the evil plans of this illegitimate king but would use his threatenings to further legitimize Jesus’ right to be the true King by fulfilling prophecy.
Before we move on, let’s consider the context of
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.
Now wait a minute, isn’t Hosea referring historically to Israel’s Exodus from Egypt? Yes, but here Matthew, under inspiration, reveals that the Exodus from Egypt served as a type (nonverbal prediction) that one day the Messiah would also come out of Egypt. Just as God’s chosen people came out of Egypt God’s chosen Son would also come out of Egypt.
The Third Identification
The Third Identification
The third fulfilled prophecy that Matthew mentions concerning the coming of the Messiah is that of the brutal slaughter in Bethlehem. Herod, thinking that he was tricked by the magi, was enraged and commanded the brutal slaughter of all male children who were in Bethlehem and all its districts from two years and under. The words that Matthew used to describe Herod’s disposition communicates that Herod had literally lost control of his rage and now was completely controlled by it. He was already enraged at the news that there could be a legitimate contender to his rule but now he was exceedingly enraged that the magi had obeyed God rather than him. Herod, of course, was not thinking straight. Even if the magi had intentionally tricked him (which is what Matthew tell us he thought) they obviously would have warned the family of the child allowing them to escape. Again, Herod was beyond the ability to control Himself. If he could not kill Jesus he would kill the other children in His stead. The slaughtered children were nothing more to him than an object of wrath.
Again, little did Herod know that as he was enveloped by his rage he was also fulfilling prophecy. Although this heinous act was only recorded by Matthew it was predicted by Jeremiah.
Like the prophecy concerning Jesus’ coming out of Egypt this prophecy was also a type. At the time Jeremiah was speaking of the tragedy that would soon come to Israel when most of her people would be taken captive to Babylon. Ramah was the place where Jewish captives were assembled for deportation to Babylon. Rachel who was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin who cried, “Give me children or else I die,” was depicted in Jeremiah as weeping over her multiplied descendants as they were lead away captive to Babylon.
And just as there was mourning over the deportation to Babylon there was now mourning all throughout Israel as mothers wept over their senselessly slain children.
And so once again Matthew sites all of this as further legitimacy of Jesus’ right to the throne of David.
He will come out of Bethlehem - fulfilled!
He will come out of Egypt - fulfilled!
There will be great mourning in Israel - fulfilled!
The Fourth Identification
The Fourth Identification
The fourth fulfilled prophecy that Matthew mentions in chapter two is that the king would be known as a Nazarene. After the death of Herod Joseph was instructed to return to the land of Israel. Hearing that Archelaus was reigning over Judea Joseph was afraid to return there. Although those who specifically sought the death of Jesus were now dead, Archelaus posed a more general threat as he was a heartless and cruel ruler just like his father was. Shortly before Herod’s death he had executed two Jewish rabbis who had stirred up their followers in Jerusalem in an attempt to tear down the Roman eagle that the king had placed over the Temple gate. Because of this, the following passover a rebellion broke out and Archelaus executed three thousand Jews, many of whom were Passover pilgrims who had nothing to do with the rebellion. Joseph’s apprehension was confirmed when God warned him in a dream and so they turned aside to the region of Galilee and settled in a city called Nazareth.
Matthew does not specifically tell us which prophet predicted that the Messiah would be called a Nazarene, but he did mention that more than one prophet made this prediction. It is also true that this prediction is not recorded for us in the Old Testament. This, however, should not alarm us. Paul mentions that Jesus taught that it was more blessed to give than to receive regardless of the fact that we do not find that specific statement in the gospels, and John specifically tell us that he did not even attempt to record everything that Jesus said and did. Matthew is giving his account to a Jewish audience and so it seems that they likely knew the prophecies to which Matthew was referring. For us it is obvious that the Holy Spirit felt it was enough for us to know that the prophecy was made and that it was fulfilled.
Jesus the Nazarene - a title that would one day cause Nathanael to question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nazareth was known for being inhabited by violent and obscene people. So much so that Nathanael, in whom was no guile, was led to question whether it was possible that good could come from such a place. Later in life the title Jesus of Nazareth would be used as a derisive title that would fulfill many other prophecies that the Messiah would be despised.
As comes to a close Matthew again draws attention to the legitimacy of Jesus as the one, true King.
The King will come out of Bethlehem - fulfilled!
The King will come out of Egypt - fulfilled!
There will be great mourning in Israel - fulfilled!
The King will be called A Nazarene - fulfilled!
The Message For Us
The Message For Us
Tonight, what is the takeaway for us? I want to draw our attention back to a couple areas in this chapter. One is Herod’s response to the announced coming of this Messiah. Matthew records this.
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
Herod’s crime against Israel is even worse than we first imagined. He knew that the child that he sought to destroy was the Messiah, the Christ. Since he had purposed in his heart to destroy the Christ he knowingly and arrogantly set himself up against God.
Another place I would like to draw our attention to is to the chief priests and the scribes. They saw the signs. The signs were even pointed out to them by Herod, and they acknowledged that it could be the Christ, yet they did not seek him.
It seems that as early as chapter 2 Matthew is foreshadowing Israel’s rejection of their true King. Although Herod had no legitimate claim to the throne he made a show of being “The King of the Jews” as he pretended to care about the Jews and their religion. Herod’s rejection of Christ foreshadowed Israel’s rejection of Him.
As for the chief priests and the scribes, they knew better, but, like Herod, they were consumed with concern for their own power. The leaders of Israel had no interest in seeking their Messiah much less worshipping Him.
The slaughter of the children in Bethlehem foreshadowed the slaughter that would take place in the wake of Israel’s rejection of Christ. The rejection of Jesus was be the catalyst that intensified the conflict between the kingdom of the world and the kingdom of God. By A.D. 70 Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed. Even worse, as Titus and his troops rolled over Jerusalem they would massacre over a million Jews, and even that massacre is nothing compared to the blood that the Antichrist will shed in the Great Tribulation when more Israelis will be slaughtered than ever before. All of this can be traced back to one question that Herod, the priests, and the scribes were all confronted with at the coming of Jesus: what will you do with the Christ?