Thursday, March 23, 2017

35 - Wise Men and Shepherds

And she shall bear a son, and you shall call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.  Now all this happened so that might be fulfilled that which was spoken of the LORD by the prophet, saying, "Behold, the virgin shall conceive in her womb, and will bear a son. And they will call His name Emmanuel," which being interpreted is, God with us. Mat. 1:21-23  

The Birth of Christ

By Matthew:

Matthew's gospel is the only one that mentions the coming of the wise men and their return home by a different route.   It seems curious that if king Herod was so worried about a new king who was born in Bethlehem, that he would not have sent a group of soldiers with the wise men "just to make sure" that he got an honest report.

That Christ's birth was a special birth is indicated by the fact that there was a star that the wise men followed.  The fact that the wise men brought gifts to Jesus is not very surprising; it was the custom of the East.

Some will have these (three) gifts to be emblematic of the Divinity, regal office, and manhood of Christ. Clarke.  However, these gifts do not in any way suggest that Christ is divine.  They only indicate that the wise men thought Christ was the future king of Israel.

Following the story of the wise men, is the story of Joseph and his family hastening into Egypt for safety.  I think it would be safe to assume that other parents when they saw that king Herod was killing all baby boys, would have made, or tried to make, the same trek.  

Many did not succeed; A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not (they are no longer alive). Mat 2:18.  Rachel was Jacob's wife, and in this case, the name "Rachel" is symbolic of the offspring of Jacob (the posterity of Abraham).  

Ramah, also spelled Rama, was a town about five miles south of Jerusalem.   When there was a loud noise in Jerusalem, the Jews might use this proverb, "It was so loud it could be heard in Ramah". Fausset's Bible dictionary.  

After Herod died, Joseph returned to Israel, but Archelaus, Herod's son, was ruler over Southern Israel at that time.  Joseph did not feel safe there so he moved north to Nazareth so that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He (Jesus) shall be called a Nazarene. Mat. 2:23.  

By Luke

Whereas Matthew is the only gospel writer who mentions the wise men, Luke is the only one who mentions the shepherds in the Christmas story.  

She wrapped him in swaddling clothes. Luke 2:7 KJV.  Modern translations don't use the word "swaddling" anymore.  That is a good thing because nobody knows what it means anyway.  I mention it here only to explain that it means, Swaddling clothes are snugly wrapped strips of cloth. Clarke.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  MKJV
Glory to God in the highest: and on earth peace to men of good will.  Luke2:14. Douay-Rheims version.  

I mention these two translations because it seems that the second one is, by far, the better translation because it is the people of "good will" who are much more likely to have peace within. 

when the days of her purification according to the Law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord. Luke 2:22.  According to the law of Moses the time of purification, after a male child was born, is 40 days.  Dring those days the mother was not allowed to enter the tabernacle because she was considered to be unclean. 

When she was finally allowed to go, she needed
to bring a lamb for a burnt offering, and a turtledove or a young pigeon for a sin offering.  If she could not afford a lamb, the mother had to bring another turtle dove or young pigeon; and, if even this was beyond her means, then a portion of fine flour. Guzik.

Luke tells this story: Christ's parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. Luke 2:41. As it happened, when Christ was 12 years old He went with them, and when the parents were finished feasting they set out for home. 

After they had traveled one day they realized that their son was not among the bunch of youngsters that were going home with the multitude of parents.  So His parents had to return to Jerusalem to find their boy, and, on the third day they found Him; there he was, in the temple, conversing with the elders and the religious leaders of His time.

And it happened that after three days they found Him in the temple.  And seeing Him, they were amazed. And His mother said to Him, Child, why have you done so to us? Behold, your father and I have looked for you, greatly distressed.  And He said to them, Why did you look for Me? Do you not know that I must be about My Father's business? Luke 2:46+49

It is interesting that instead of, 
about My Father's business, the Syriac and Persic versions render it, in my Father's house. Guzik.  Or, in other words, Why did you spend three days looking for me all over Jerusalem?  Didn't you know that I would be in my Father's house?

Still, they did not know what he was talking about; 
they did not understand the word which He spoke to them. Luke 2:50  Perhaps they assumed like most parents do, their son would follow in his "father's" footsteps and become a carpenter.  

He went (home) with them and came to Nazareth, and He was subject to them, (He obeyed His parents). Luke 2:51

Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. Luke 2:52.  We will look at this verse in detail in the next post.

* all pictures from