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December 26, 2023

The Agitated King

Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?

–Matthew 2:2

The account of Jesus’s birth in Matthew 2 is built around the fulfillment of four Old Testament prophecies. First, Matthew recorded that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (2:1). That was prophesied in Micah 5:2. Second, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Egypt to protect Him from King Herod’s rampage (Matthew 2:13-15). That was prophesied in Hosea 11. Third, we find Herod launching an attack against the Hebrew children (Matthew 2:16). That was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:11. Finally, we see Joseph and Mary returning to Israel to reside in Nazareth (Matthew 2:21-23), predicted by Isaiah seven hundred years before the fact.

Let’s look at how these prophesied events began to unfold. Matthew 2:1 says, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem.” Who were these magi? They were scholars from the east, from Persia and Babylon. Five hundred years earlier, Daniel had taught the magi in Nebuchadnezzar’s court about the Scriptures that foretold of a coming Messiah. The magi passed down this knowledge for generations. That explains why the magi were interested in knowing about this Christ.

The magi said, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him” (v. 2). Look at Herod’s response: “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (v. 3). Herod was agitated about a rival king being born, so he asked his chief priests and scribes where this Messiah would be born. They told Herod it was prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

Can I point out something? These religious leaders knew the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, yet they would not walk a couple of miles to see the Son of God. It is not that they were ignorant of Christ; they were just indifferent to the message of Christ. You see, the news of a Savior is really no news at all if you do not feel like you need a Savior.

Herod was more interested in Jesus than the religious people were. He said to the magi, “Search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him” (v. 8). Right. Notice what the magi did: “After hearing the king, they went their way. . . . After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. . . . And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way” (vv. 9, 11-12). The magi wisely did not report back to Herod, and that set the stage for the agitated king to make a move.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “A Portrait of Two Kings” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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