Here is a summary of our Bible study on Sunday.

Who is Ruler? (Matthew 2)

Matthew was one of Jesus’ disciples. He spent over three years with Jesus, so he knew the truth about Jesus. He knew that Jesus was the promised Messiah (Christ) – “the ruler over Israel” whose “greatness [would] extend to the ends of the earth” (Micah 5:2, 4).

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples proclaimed the good news about him. Many people believed, but many others rejected the good news. The majority of Jews had trouble accepting Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. He did not meet their expectations.

One of the reasons Matthew wrote his Gospel was to help people, especially his fellow Jews, to know that Jesus was (and is) the promised Messiah and Savior. So Matthew’s Gospel often talks about how the coming of Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures.

Son of David, Born in Bethlehem

One of the things that troubled the Jews was Jesus’ hometown – that is, Nazareth in Galilee. They asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” (John 7:41-42). How does Matthew address these concerns?

Matthew 1 begins, “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham…” (Matthew 1:1). Matthew makes it clear that Jesus is a descendant of David.

Matthew 2 begins, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea…” (2:1). Matthew makes it clear that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which was a fulfillment of prophecy (2:4-6; Micah 5:2, 4).

So why was Jesus called “Jesus of Nazareth?” Matthew tells us.

King of Kings

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, “Magi from the east” came looking for “the one who had been born king of the Jews.” (2:1-2) These “wise men” were not Jews but they came to honor and worship the king of the Jews. They seemed to understand that this king was more than just another king. In fact, Jesus is the ruler whose “greatness [would] extend to the ends of the earth.” He is the King of kings (Revelation 17:14).

The news of a newborn king greatly disturbed “Herod the Great” who was king over Judea at that time (2:3). King Herod was a cruel, ruthless and insecure ruler. He felt threatened by the existence of this newborn king. He found out the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, and requested that the Magi find the child and report to him “so that [he] too may go and worship him” (2:8).

Of course, Herod didn’t want to worship Jesus. He wanted to eliminate him. But the Magi did not cooperate with Herod. After the Magi visited Jesus and his parents (Mary and Joseph), they returned home avoiding any contact with Herod.

Saved to Save

After the Magi left, an angel told Joseph to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt because Herod intended to find Jesus and kill him (2:13). So Joseph took them to Egypt.

When Herod found out the Magi had gone back without reporting to him, “he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under” (2:16). Of course, this great evil caused much sorrow in Bethlehem, but the Savior had been saved.

Called a Nazarene

After Herod died in 4 BC, an angel told Joseph, “Get up, take the child and his mother to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead” (2:20). However, Herod’s son Archelaus was now ruling in Judea, and he was also cruel and oppressive. So they went past Judea to Nazareth in Galilee, which was Joseph and Mary’s earlier hometown (Luke 1:26-27).

“This fulfilled what the prophets had said: He will be called a Nazarene” (2:23).

This statement is not a direct quotation from the Old Testament but summarizes a theme of prophetic expectation. Nazareth and Nazarenes were belittled and despised (Luke 1:46; Acts 24:5) and the Old Testament prophets said the Messiah would be despised and rejected (Isaiah 53:2-3).

Jesus was despised and rejected to the point of death on a cross. But Jesus endured and overcame. He was raised from the dead thus providing the way of salvation into an everlasting kingdom of peace and righteousness.

Who is Ruler?

Jesus is the King of kings – the ruler whose greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. The Magi seemed to understand something about this, but Herod felt threatened by it, and violently reacted to it.

King Herod was extreme! But similar leaders, governments, institutions and movements still exist. People feel threatened by the rule of Jesus Christ so they are willing to mistreat, oppress and even kill members of Christ’s Body – the Church. This is happening in various places in our world today.

However, the question “Who is Ruler?” is also a personal question. Each of us should ask the question, “Who is ruler of my life?” As the King of kings, Jesus should be! As the Giver of everlasting life, and the one mediator between God and mankind, Jesus should be! Do you have questions about this?

Brothers and sisters, you have already declared that Jesus is your Ruler. In what ways is this evident in your daily life? Reflect on Matthew 22:37-39 and daily commit to follow the King.

Your Servant,

You may E-mail Jay & Michele Lester

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