Choose Your Focus This Christmas: Learning from Herod, the Magi, and Matthew (Matthew 2:1)
In Matthew 2:1–12 we find the incredible story of the Magi. Sunday, Ron Comoglio, one of OBC’s elders preached a message on that passage. What follows are discussion questions related to that sermon and further resources for studying the incredible account of the Bethlehem Star which led the Magi to meet the Christ-child and offer him worship.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
“ ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ”
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
- In what ways do we misread the birth story of Christ? How do our traditions, nativities, and Christmas artwork help or hinder our understanding? How does a study in Matthew’s Gospel help us know Christ more completely and worship him more passionately?
- What does Matthew want us to know about Jesus? How does Matthew 1–2 fit into his ‘argument’? What role do the Old Testament quotations play?
- Read Micah 5:1–5. What is the historical context of this passage? Why does Micah speak of Bethlehem? (Hint: it is the town of David, the place where kings are born, see 1 Samuel 16:1ff)?
- Read Isaiah 60:1–6. What does Isaiah promise will happen in the latter days? How is this fulfilled in Jesus’ birth? Discuss the way in which Jesus’ birth partially fulfills this prophecy, and how the coming of the gentile ‘kings’ foreshadows a greater in-gathering. See also Micah 4:1–2.
- What is different about the Magi, Herod, and the Scribes? How does a comparison between them all examine our approach to Christ (and Christmas)?
- How does the story of the Magi strengthen our faith? When trials come how do the promises and their fulfillments help us fight for faith?
- Finally, what do we learn about Jesus in Matthew 12:1–12? How can this story be used to tell others about Christ?
The best resource I’ve seen on this passage is The Great Christ Comet: Revealing the True Bethlehem Star by Colin R. Nicholl. Here are a handful of resources related to this illuminating work.
- Colin R. Nicholl’s website related to his book
- A Book Review of The Great Christ Comet by Guillermo Gonzalez
- An Interview with Colin R. Nicholl by Eric Metaxas (via Justin Taylor)
- A 15-point summary summary of Nicholl’s exposition of Matthew 2:1–12
Soli Deo Gloria, ds