You might be familiar with the old story "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. Ebenezer Scrooge is an old miser who is visited by the ghost / spirit of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who warns him of impending doom if he does not change his ways. He is further visited by three other ghosts / spirits, who show him his past, present, and future. In our series, we are going to have a visitation of four angels who will tell us their versions of the Christmas story. These are not angels in the typical sense of a heavenly servant of God. We are using the word "angel" which, by definition, means "messenger." The four messengers are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Matthew: The Birth of the King
The Pedigree of the King - Matthew Chapter One
Matthew 1:1-16 - Born of royal lineage.
God's royal line is shown through the genealogy of Christ from Abraham through Joseph. Two important characters to note are Judah (or Judas - Matthew 1:2-3 cp. Genesis 49:10) and King David (Matthew 1:6 cp. II Samuel 7:4-17).
As chapter one will reveal the virgin birth of Jesus, one might wonder why we have Joseph's genealogy, since he is not the father of our Lord. Joseph is the adoptive father. Jesus may legally inherit Joseph's genealogy / pedigree.
Matthew 1:18-25 - Born of a Virgin.
It is to be noted in Matthew 1:16 that Joseph is the "husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus…" The Greek wording "of whom" is in the feminine singular form. Jesus, the Christ, was born of the woman (See Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4) - not referring to Joseph as the actual Father. This fact is further explained in the rest of the chapter.
Matthew 1:22-23 - Scripture Fulfilled.
Matthew is writing with the Jew in mind. He must show them the Scriptural background of prophecies that are fulfilled by Jesus, so that they can discern that Jesus is the Christ - the true Messiah. See Isaiah 7:14.
The Reception of a King - Matthew Chapter Two
Matthew 2:1-2, 9-12 - Christ is honored by the Magi.
They were not kings, but Zoroastrian priests - magicians / astrologers from ancient Media-Persia. Their knowledge of the Scriptures can be traced back to the times of Daniel in Babylon (Daniel 5:11). These wise men felt led to travel from afar to honor a king that was born in Israel. Tradition says that there were three of them - based on the three gifts that were given (Matthew 2:11). However, it could have been more than three. Doubtless, they travelled in a larger group, with armed servants for protection.
Matthew 2:3-4, 13-15 - Christ is Despised by Herod.
Jealousy and suspicion motivated Herod to do deceitful and despicable things.
Matthew 2:4-6 - Christ is ignored by the religious scholars and leaders.
The chief priests and scribes could pinpoint the Scripture that revealed the exact location of Messiah's birth. Yet, they did not go with the magi and seek Him. Perhaps they were afraid of Herod, but we don't even get a hint that they had personal interest. Religion will establish itself as an authority on spiritual matters, exerting power and authority over men. Yet, often it will neglect or reject the realities of God's power and authority over our hearts and lives.
See II Timothy 3:1-5.
Note: These three responses to Christ as king are typical of people's response to the Gospel today.
Matthew 2:5-23 - Scripture Fulfilled.
- Matthew 2:5-6 cp. Micah 5:2.
- Matthew 2:14-15 cp. Hosea 11:1 - note Numbers 24:1-8.
- Matthew 2:16-18 cp. Jeremiah 31:15.
- Matthew 2:19-23 is a more difficult prophecy to explain. The word "Nazarene" is not to be confused with "Nazarite" - as some commentators have done. Neither is it to be confused with the Hebrew word "Netzar" ("Branch") in Isaiah 11:1. "Nazarene" refers to a person from Nazareth. This is a small town, seventy miles north of Jerusalem, that is in Galilee. The town and its people were held in low esteem (John 1:45-46). So, Christ being called a "Nazarene" could refer to the reproach that he suffered from His own people. The prophets that mentioned this could include David (Psalm 22:6-8) and Isaiah (Isaiah 49:7; 53:1-3). Much controversy came from people's opinions about Jesus' association with Nazareth of Galilee (John 7:40-43, 52 cp. Isaiah 9:1-2; Matthew 4:12-16).
The King speaks of His Kingdom - Matthew 13:1-52
Note "Word of the kingdom" (Matthew 13:19, 52); "the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 13:24, 31, 33, 44, 45, 47 cp. Luke 19:11-28). Scripture fulfilled - Matthew 13:34-35 cp. Psalm 78:2.
The King is Honored - Matthew 21:1-11 cp. Luke 19:28-44 (the King weeps)
Note "Thy King cometh / your King is coming." Scripture fulfilled - Matthew 21:5 cp. Zechariah 9:9; Isaiah 62:11. "Hosanna" (Save now) - Matthew 21:9 cp. Psalm 118:21-26.
The King is Betrayed, Forsaken, Condemned, and Crucified - Matthew 26:1-27:26
Scripture fulfilled - "King" - See Matthew 27:11, 27-29, 35-37, 42 cp. Psalm 22:1-21; Isaiah 50:6; 52:14; 53;1-9.
The King's Victory over Sin, Death, and the World - Matthew 28:1-20
Scripture fulfilled - Matthew 28:5-7, 18-20; Psalm 22:22-31; Isaiah 53:10-12. See Matthew 24:1 - 25:46 cp. Psalm 2:1-12.
Four Christmas Angels: Messenger # 2 - Mark
Scripture Reading: Mark 1:1-15