Daily Devotional

February 21, 2021

Daybreak: Matthew 2:1-23

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)

Another baby is about to arrive! I love giving baby gifts, and I try to make certain that the gift I select is perfect for each special baby. To help me achieve this, I ask the parents whether or not they know the gender of the baby, and what colors and theme have been chosen to decorate the baby room. I also pay attention to the parents’ style and taste. Using the information I gather, I attempt to find or create a meaningful gift that can be appreciated throughout the baby’s life. 

Similarly, when the Wise Men began their journey to find the Baby Jesus, they knew He was a special Baby — the Son of God — and they wanted to give Him the very best treasures from their lands. The focus verse says that when they found Him, they worshiped Him and presented gifts to Him. The Wise Men’s gifts were very expensive and lavish gifts fit for a king. They knew their carefully-selected treasures would demonstrate their adoration of the newborn King. They did not feel obligated to give Him these things, nor did they do it begrudgingly; the Wise Men gave their best gifts to Baby Jesus because they wanted to, and it gave them joy to do it. 

When we give God the best of our gifts, we must be sure in our hearts that we are doing it willingly and joyfully. Consider God’s sacrifice when He sent His Son to the earth to die for our sins. It must have pained Him to see His Son suffer, but He did it joyfully, knowing it was for our salvation. Nothing we give to God will ever equal His ultimate gift, but when we freely give the best of our treasures, God will richly pour out His blessings. James 1:17 reads, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” God’s gifts are worth more than anything in the world that we have to give!

Freely and joyfully giving our best to God will ensure that we receive God’s perfect gifts from Heaven.

Background

Tradition says that the Wise Men were men of high position in Parthia, which is near the site of ancient Babylon. Some scholars believe the men were actually from different lands, representing the entire world bowing before Jesus, the King of kings. The phrase, “wise men” or “magi” refers to a group of scholars who studied the stars. Their title connects them with magic, but it is believed that they were more like astronomers. It is uncertain exactly how many men there were, but from the three gifts listed it has been assumed there were three kings from the East. Whether they were kings or scholars, the Wise Men were Gentiles, seeking Jesus who came to be the “Saviour of the world” (John 4:42). 

By the time the Wise Men actually found Jesus, Joseph and Mary were living in a house in Bethlehem (Bethlehem means house of bread, and from here the Bread of life came). The gifts brought by the Wise Men were gold, frankincense, and myrrh, which were very expensive and worthy of a king. Gold was a gift for a king; frankincense, a gift for deity; and myrrh, a burial spice — symbolically appropriate for One who was going to die for the sins of all mankind. These gifts may have been used to finance Joseph and Mary’s trip to Egypt and back. 

When the Wise Men asked about a newborn king of the Jews, King Herod, also known as “Herod the Great,” was very disturbed because he was not the rightful heir to the throne of David. Herod was not a full-blooded Israelite. He was an Edomite; a descendent of Esau. The Romans gave him the title, “king of the Jews,” but the Jewish people never accepted him. In an attempt to win the Jewish peoples’ loyalties, Herod rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem; however, because he also rebuilt various pagan temples, he won little admiration. He was a ruthless man, having killed his own wife and three brothers because he suspected them of treason. In order to fulfill his lusts and to strengthen his political ties, he was married nine times. 

When Herod died, God gave Joseph instructions to take his family out of Egypt and return to Israel. When the family arrived in Israel, they found out that Herod’s evil son, Archelaus, had inherited control over Judea. God told Joseph to go on to Galilee, so Joseph and his family settled in Nazareth, which is located in the hilly area of southern Galilee, near the crossroads of great caravan trade routes. The people of Nazareth had constant contact with people all over the world because of the trade routes. The town itself was rather small, and the Roman garrison in charge of Galilee resided there, making Nazareth despised by Jews. 

Verse 23 of chapter 2 reads, “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.” The Old Testament does not record this specific statement; however many scholars believe that Matthew was referring to Isaiah 11:1, which uses the Hebrew word for “Branch,” which is similar to “Nazarene.” Or he may be referencing something not recorded in the Bible. In either case, Matthew was establishing that Jesus was the true Messiah, announced by God through prophets, who was born into humble beginnings, just as the Old Testament had prophesied.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I.   The presentation of the King
      A.   The coming of the King
            3.   His infancy (2:1-23)
                  a.   Early days in Bethlehem (2:1-12)
                        (1)   The Magi before Herod (2:1-8)
                        (2)   The Magi before the Child (2:9-12)
                  b.   Flight into Egypt (2:13-18)
                        (1)   The deliverance of the Child (2:13-15)
                        (2)   The destruction by Herod (2:16-18)
                  c.   Residence in Nazareth (2:19-23)
                        (1)   Journey out of Egypt (2:19-20)
                        (2)   Arrival in Israel (2:21)
                        (3)   Settlement in Galilee (2:22-23)

A Closer Look

  1. How did Herod react to the visit of the Wise Men? Why?
     
  2. What can we learn from the actions of the Wise Men?
     
  3. What “gifts” can we offer God in gratitude for the great Gift He offered us?

Conclusion

Let us purpose to freely and joyfully give God our best gifts.

Reference Materials