Monday, February 16, 2009

Who Really is the King

I invite your attention to the New Testament Book of Matthew Chapters one and two. If a man suddenly appears and claims to be a king, the public immediately asks for proof. What is his background? Who pays homage to him? What credentials can he present? Anticipating these important questions, Matthew opened his book with a careful account of the birth of Jesus Christ and the events that accompanied it. Mary and Joseph were in the one year waiting period when Mary was found to be with child. Matthew presented four facts about the King. Fact number one, the heredity of the King proves He came from royal lineage (1:1-12). Since royalty depends on heredity, it was important for Jesus to establish His right to David’s throne. The opening verse connected Christ to two great covenants, the Davidic, found in II Samuel 7, and the Abrahamic found in Genesis 12:15. Note Jesus human heredity (1:1-17). Genealogies were very important to the Jews, without them they could not prove their tribal memberships or rights to inheritances. Anyone claiming to be “the Son of David” had to prove it. Matthew gave Christ’s family tree through Joseph, Luke gave Mary’s linage. The list of names show that Christ is part of history. His divine heredity is spelled out (1:18-25). Jesus was born of an earthly mother without the need of an earthly father (v. 18). The Messiah would be born of a woman, of the seed of Abraham, through the tribe of Judah, and of the family of David. Jesus is the only Jew alive who can prove His claims to the throne of David. All other records were destroyed in 70 A.D. His birth fulfilled Isaiah 7:14 “Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” The King, then, was a Jewish male who was also the divine Son of God. But, did anybody acknowledge His Kingship? Yes, the Magi from the East came and worshipped him. We find in v.16 the “of whom” is a feminine relative pronoun, clearly indicating that Jesus was the physical child of Mary but not of Joseph. Fact number two, the homage give to the King (2:1-12). The wise men were specialists in astronomy. There were enough of them to trouble all of Jerusalem (2:3). The wise men were Gentiles. Jesus came to be the Savior of the world. They were scholars. No scholarly person who follows the light that God gives can miss worshipping at the feet of Jesus. Many feel the Magi reflected a knowledge of Balaam’s prophecy concerning the “star” that would come out of Jacob (see Numbers 24:17). The Magi were seeking the king; Herod was opposing the king, and the Jewish priests were ignoring the King. Herod the great was a ruthless murderer. He killed his wife and her two brothers. He wanted to kill Jesus because he bore the title King of the Jews. Also, Herod was a descendant of Esau. He knew if someone was a rightful king, it could cost him his throne. Herod understood that the King was Christ (see Matthew 2:4). Matthew cites a second fulfilled prophecy (2:5). How, He was born of a virgin, and where He was born, Bethlehem. Bethlehem means “house of bread.” This is where the “Bread of Life” came to earth. Bethlehem in the Old Testament was associated with David who was a type of Christ in his suffering and glory. Fact number three, the hostility against the King (2:13-18). Of interest is, stars typically travel east to west, this one went north to south. A person is identified by his friends, and by his enemies. Herod pretended that he wanted to worship the King (2:8). God warned Joseph to flee to Egypt. This fulfilled another prophecy (see Hosea 11:1), “I called My Son out of Egypt.” The gift of the Magi paid their expenses. Herod’s anger was evidence of his pride (2:16). Herod killed the body babies two years of age and under. Bethlehem is very small, about 20 babies died. Satan is a liar and a murderer. Herod lied to the Magi and murdered the babies. This fulfilled Jeremiah 31:15 “Rachel weeping for her children because they were not.” The first mention of Bethlehem was the death of Rachel. She named her son Benoni “Son of my sorrow.” Jacob renamed him Benjamin “Son of my right hand.” Both titles relate to Jesus. Rachel’s grave is near Bethlehem. Jeremiah’s prophecy was given about 600 years before Christ. Very few think of Bethlehem as a burial place, we think of it as a birth place of Jesus Christ. Fact number four, the humility of the King (2:19-23). After a period of time in Egypt God spoke to Joseph in a dream, and he took his wife and her Son to Nazareth (2:19-20). Even this act fulfilled prophecy (v. 23). The term Nazarene was one of reproach. “Can there by any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Many Old Testament prophecies speak of the Messiah’s lowly life of rejection. Our Lord grew up in Nazareth. Who ever heard of a King being born in a humble village and growing up in a despised city? The humility of the King is certainly something to admire and imitate. Nazareth housed the Roman garrison for Northern regions of Galilee. Most Jews would not associate with that city. This is one reason Jesus was despised. Don’t be surprised that as you follow the King, you will also be despised. However “great is our reward in heaven.” Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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