The Heavens Declare

2021-01-03 – Year B – Christmas 2 – The Rev. Canon Christopher M. Klukas
Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 84; Matthew 2:1-12

  • Did you see the “Christmas Star” a few days before Christmas?
    • Alignment of Saturn and Jupiter
    • The last time these planets were this close together was in 1623!
  • Could this “great conjunction” explain what the Wise Men saw?
    • There were three conjunctions of Saturn and Jupiter in 8 BC
    • Jupiter and Venus had multiple similar conjunctions in 3 BC
    • Probably not.
    • “The truth is, none of these events match up perfectly with the description of how things played out in the Book of Matthew. The context is also off. Ancient people knew their planets well, so it would be weird to call a conjunction of multiple planets a “star.” Furthermore, it’s hard to imagine how Herod could be surprised by three wise men telling him about a new star; he surely would’ve seen any such bright or obvious object himself.”
  • There is no good scientific and historical explanation.
  • I like to think that God caused whatever it was as a supernatural event to announce the birth of his Son! “The Messiah is here!” was literally written in the sky!

The Messiah is Here

  • I was underwhelmed by the “great conjunction” but the wise men were impressed with what they saw!
  • The “wise men” were probably not three men on camels.
    • We don’t know the actual number of them.
    • They were likely representatives from the court of the Parthian empire (Iraq).
      • If they came from Babylon (about 800 miles away) the trip would have taken about 40 days.
    • Probably traveled with a large caravan.
    • Matthew 2:3 – Herod was troubled and “all Jerusalem with him.”
    • They ended up standing before Herod himself
  • Matthew was Jewish and was very concerned with demonstrating how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the OT as the Messiah. 1:22 “All this took place to fulfill…”
    • Matthew 1:23 – “…the virgin shall conceive and bear a son…”
    • The geneology at the beginning of this Gospel makes clear that Jesus is a descendent of David.
      • The Angel calls Joseph the “son of David” (Matthew 1:30)
    • v. 5-6 prophesy about Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah.

Not Just for Jews

  • How interesting that God used Gentiles to announce the birth of the Messiah to Herod, the “King of the Jews,” his court, and the people of his captial city!
    • Gentiles were looked down upon by Jews
    • Astrology was forbidden in the Law!
  • “Without condoning astrology, Matthew’s narrative challenges our prejudice against outsiders to our faith (see also 8:5–13; 15:21–28): even the most pagan of pagans may respond to Jesus if given the opportunity (compare Jon 1:13–16; 3:6–10). What a resounding call for the church today to pursue a culturally sensitive yet uncompromising commitment to missions!”
  • This is good news for anyone who is not Jewish! This is the first indication in the New Testament that this Messiah was not just the savior of the Jews but of all the people of the earth.
    • Romans 10:12-13 “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord”
  • Think about the people you interact with regularly. Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers. Which ones do you think are most likely to respond to the Gospel?
  • John 1:11 – “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.”

Fleeing for Egypt

  • Holy Innocents – December 28
    • When the wise men went home by another way (v. 12) and didn’t return to visit Herod, Herod took matters into his own hands.
    • Herod was a paranoid ruler. He murdered his wife and a number of his sons becasue of potential challenges to his reign.
    • He felt threatened knowing that there was a new king that he was not aware of.
    • Matthew 2:16 describes his response.
  • Before Herod had hatched his plan, God had already crafted a plan to watch over Jesus and his parents.
    • God warned Joseph through an angel in a dream (v. 13) and told him what to do.
    • The gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh could have been used to provide for the Holy Family during their time as refugees in Egypt.
    • Provider, protector, and guide
  • God will watch over you too if you will put your trust in him.
    • Psalm 84:4-5, 10-12

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