Matthew 2

Vs. 1, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem.”  An estimated two years have transpired; Joseph and Mary are living in Bethlehem.  Magi from the east have come to pay homage to the king of the Jews.  It is believed these Magi (magicians, eastern wise men, astrologers) came from Babylon which is about 900 miles!  We are not given the number of wise men, but they more than likely traveled in quite large groups.  The tradition of three comes from the three types of gifts presented to Jesus (vs. 11).  Question: How would they have known about this?  The dispersed Jews certainly would have shared the story of Balaam (Numbers 24:17) and his prophecy of a star that will come out of Jacob.  Herod felt quite pressured knowing that he was not the true rightful heir of the Jews, because he was only half-Jew.  Herod the Great ruled Judea and had the favor of both Rome and the leading Jews.  Yet, the baby Jesus was under the protection of His Father!  How interesting that Jesus’ life parallels the Jewish history; Jesus would also travel down to Egypt, and would return back to the land of Canaan.  The Holy Spirit guides Matthew in selecting OT scripture that reminds us (especially the Jews) that Jesus is the fulfillment of these prophecies.  The order to kill the baby boys two years and younger (vs. 16-18) would have been an estimated ten to thirty boys because Bethlehem was a very small town.  Lastly we see, Jesus and family return to region of Galilee in the town of Nazareth (vs. 21-23).

Regarding application…A Right Response.  Vs. 11, “On 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 and of incense and of myrrh.”  What a contrast when you compare the magi to the response of Herod and all of Jerusalem (vs. 3).  Though Matthew’s gospel is targeted towards Jews, the ones who respond right are Gentiles.  We don’t know the magi’s hearts when they bowed down to worship or if they even knew the ramifications of it.  However, their response reminds all of us that Jesus is not only the king of the Jews, but came to save the whole world.  Question: How do you respond when you come before the Lord?  God’s response was to give His one and only Son (John 3:16).  Let us consider how we respond.  In a world that is often me-centric, it’s time to be a giver rather than a taker.

Acts 1

Vs. 4, “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.”  After the resurrection, Jesus spent forty more days with His disciples instructing them (vs. 2).  He was reminding them that the thirds person of the Trinity will be coming.  The Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit for many Christians is the most difficult to understand.  While there are differences in understand the baptism of the Holy Spirit (vs. 5), we as Christians have the confidence that we have the Holy Spirit in us.  The Holy Spirit helps us to be holy and sanctified for God.  The Holy Spirit guides us and helps us to do the will of the Father in Christ Jesus.  In this chapter, we see the disciples obey Jesus and wait for the coming of the Spirit (vs. 9-26).  I love how we see the dependence shown in fervent prayer (vs. 14).  We also see the adding of Matthias as Judas Iscariots replacement among the twelve (vs. 20-26)

Regarding application…You are Witnesses. Vs. 8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  How can I not highlight this verse for our application today?  This was Jesus’ last command before He ascended to Heaven.  This fulfills the importance of what we call the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20).  Though we have not physically seen Jesus, we still have the important job of witnessing because we have experienced Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  Brothers & sisters in Christ…This is our purpose.  So often we ask ourselves, “What is God’s will for me?”  We are to be witnesses of Christ in all that we do.  A witness in a trial bears testimony for what they saw and believe.  We do the same thing.  That is why we devote time to reading the Bible, because the more we know, the more effective our witness becomes!