A Christmas Devotion: The Christmas Story Explained Part 2

Here is part number two of our study of the birth of Christ as we find it in the book of Matthew.  If you remember, we had divided up the Matthew passages into two parts:

Part #1 – Matthew 1:18-2:10

Part #2 – Matthew 2:11-23


Matthew 2:11-23


When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

The identity of this star is up to much debate ranging from the planet Jupiter, to an alignment of planets, or perhaps a comet or meteor.  Different scientists and scholars hold to different views.

One thing, I think, is important to remember… it was possible for the Lord to miraculous create a light in the sky to lead His people.  Remember the “pillar of fire” that led the children of Israel through the wilderness? (Exo 13:21, 14:24, Num 14:14, Neh 9:12 etc.) Could it be that this star was a miraculous act of God prepared exclusively for this one time showing to lead men to Christ?

And when they were come into the house,

Note they come into “the house” not into the stable.  Joseph, Mary and the Baby were no longer in the stable by the time the wise men arrived at Bethlehem.  Most people believe that it took as long as 1-2 years for the wise men to travel from Persia to Bethlehem.  Keep in mind, Herod’s decree was to kill all babies 2 years and under.  Why two years?  Could it be that was approximately how long the star had been appearing in the sky?  And that was how long it took for the wise men to travel from the east?

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.

At the sight of the baby, the wise men kneel down in submission to Him… a sign of their belief in God’s prophecies and the baby being the Christ, their King.  The gifts that were given to Christ was significant.  In the Bible, many times gold is symbolic of kings (Dan 3:1).   Frankincense was used as incense for worship picturing our communion with God (prayers arising to God from earth – Ex 30:34)   The myrrh was used for the embalming of dead bodies (John 19:39).   These gifts teach us that the baby was a King, who was sinless having perfect communion with His Father, and he would taste death for His people.

And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

The wise men then departed to their country (probably Persia), being careful not to go through Jerusalem where Herod lived.  You can see where the Lord gave them wisdom to understand the true person of Christ and to see through the motives of Herod.

And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

God the Father continued to care for Jesus and His family by warning them of the decree of Herod.  Probably this was the same angel that had appeared to Joseph in Matthew 1:20.

When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

From Bethlehem they went to Egypt, trying to escape from the decree Herod had issued.  This was in fulfillment of the prophecy (probably Hosea 11:1.)

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Herod’s decree is issued and heinous death of infants resulted… this was in fulfillment of the prophecy found in Jeremiah 31:15.

But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.

Again, the Lord, through His angel,  directs the lives of this family by telling them to return to Israel at the death of Herod.

And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

They return to Israel.  But Joseph would not enter into the province of Judaea because Herod’s son had now taken the throne of his father.  The Lord then directs them to the province of Galilee through the use of a dream.  Please notice how God had gone before this young family every step of the way, leading and guiding them, always for their protection and safety.

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.

They settled in the town of Nazareth which was Mary’s home town (Luke 1:26).  This would be the fulfillment of the prophecy found in Isa 53:2-3.  Nazareth was a despised city, those who were citizens were looked down upon (John 1:46).  By Christ being given the title Nazarene, he was being looked down upon and rejected by many, just as Isaiah 53:2-3 prophetically described Him.

Please note that in the account of Christ’s birth in Matthew, we find prophecies of His origins to range from He came from Bethlehem, He came out of Egypt and He would be called a Nazarene.  Before Christ’s coming to the earth, NO ONE could have reconciled these passages.  It looked as if He was going to be born in 3 different locations!  However, once He came to the earth and lived His life, all three of these prophecies made perfect sense.

It is much the same with futuristic prophecies for us today.  Great care needs to be taken thinking that we have all the events of the future figured out.  Until these events actually take place, none of us can say for certain, exactly what the future holds for us.

We will continue our study of the Christmas story by looking at the account from the book of Luke in our next blog entry.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”


About Rob Barkman

A retired pastor, Bible teacher and author of 20 years, he is currently ministering through Settled In Heaven Ministries. SIH Ministries is an on-line Bible teaching ministry that was founded by Bro Barkman in 2010. Settled In Heaven’s mission is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by fulfilling two different roles... rendering encouragement and Biblical knowledge to the saints in an effort to enhance their service to Christ; and proclaiming the gospel message to those who are in need of salvation, explaining to them their urgent need to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
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9 Responses to A Christmas Devotion: The Christmas Story Explained Part 2

  1. ptl2010 says:

    Greetings from Bethlehem. Bethlehem now falls under Palestinian authority. We visited the Church of Nativity and the grotto where they say Jesus was born. A 14 pointed star which represents 14 generations from King David to Jesus, marks the place of Jesus’ birth and today 3 churches are sitting atop that grotto – the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic Churches with 9 masses held each day. Where Bethlehem was populated largely by Christians in 1967. It is now mostly populated by Palestinian Muslims. I took a photo with a group of Muslims girls who were visiting the grotto. They had followed me around,curious to find out where we came from. It is interesting to note that Muslims are visiting the grotto, even though they do not believe He is Son of God.
    In retrospect, it is comforting to know that the Lord’s Word has come to pass concerning Jesus’ first coming, and it will be the same for the prophecies that will be for His second coming.

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Hi Evelyn… May the Lord continue to bless your travels. We all anxiously look forward to the appearing of our Lord as He fulfills the prophecies of His second coming. Lord bless you.

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  3. Reading between the lines is often a dangerous thing. However, much of Scripture demands not really ‘reading between the lines’ but certainly careful interpretation and comparison with prophecies and other Scriptures and consideration of the origins.

    Thank you Rob, for sharing your expertise in this.

  4. Rob Barkman says:

    Hi Shelia, It makes a whole lot of sense to me…. the Bible is filled with many historical accounts of events that contain a tremendous amount of symbolic truths in them. This could be one case of such a symbolism. Lord bless you. Thanks for a great comment, it added another aspect to the posting.

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  6. “Could it be that this star was a miraculous act of God prepared exclusively for this one time showing to lead men to Christ?”-
    Just a note to add sir. Isn’t Jesus referred to as being the bright morning star? See Rev 2:28 and Rev 22:16. I have a child’s analogy(simplicity) on things, bear with me. Could it have been too at that time, God was showing them who the real morning star was aside from leading them to Him by way of the star? In the end, this star represented Jesus, and yes it could have been a miraculous sign for others. I think I said that right. 🙂
    I love this lesson too.

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Yep, you said it just fine and I understand your point. Off the top of my head I can’t see any reason why this couldn’t be the case. We just can’t be sure because the Bible does tell us one way or the other. Thanks for the comment and sharing your idea. Very interesting. Lord bless you.

  7. Pingback: A Christmas Devotion: The Christmas Story Explained Part 2 … | Christian Dailys

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