Where Is He that is Born King of the Jews?
Matthew 2: 1-12
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Where is he that is born King of the Jews? This is the question raised by the Magi who were searching for the infant Jesus. They had followed the star which hung in the sky and were travelling to look for him and worship him. This child was different than others for they knew he was the incarnation of God, the fulfillment of the promised made known through the prophets that a child would be born who is the messiah.
Where is he that is born? Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea. The gospels of Matthew and Luke tell their ideas. Matthew—Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea and that Joseph is the “son of David.” So that “Jesus the Messiah is the son of David”. Luke brings it all together. “Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea to the city of David called Bethlehem because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went with Mary to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While there, the time came for her to deliver her child.”
Jesus was born of David’s line and ‘he will save his people form their sins. But this account is not the earliest writings of the lineage of Jesus, Romans speaks of the gospel concerning his Son who was descended from David according to the flesh. John 7 states “This is the Messsiah. Surely the messiah does not come from Galilee does he? When ironically- we also know- Jesus was born in Bethlehem, But does it make a difference where Jesus was born? Isn’t the knowledge that he was born more important?
This is debatable because of his relationship possibilities with people from around the world. With the Magi knowing the prophecy, they are the ones who connect the birth of the messiah with the star and with the baby where the star had lead them give or take a few miles. Why did they go into Jerusalem first and not just to the house where Jesus was which could have been Bethlehem or Nazareth or some other village in Judea? They are the first Gentiles to see Jesus officially but their visit is regarded as epiphany the time when God revealed Jesus for who he was born to be and become—the Son of God, and the Messiah. But the Wise Men knew this- they searched for him and asked Herod where the ‘king’ would be? The king of the Jews.
Jesus’ birth was also significant because prophecy was fulfilled. Isaiah, Jeremiah and even other prophets before them, wrote about one who would come to save the people. So when he was born in Bethlehem, prophecy was fulfilled. When Jesus was visited by people from away, prophecy was fulfilled. When angels sang of his birth, prophecy was fulfilled- God said there would be a messiah and the glory of God was revealed.
This is the story of Jesus’ birth but until Jesus becomes real as messiah and Saviour, the impact of his birth remains just this, a story. Jesus birth is significant because it tells who he is his background and his purpose, but when we think of how he fulfilled prophecy by dying and rising from death, the Christmas story even makes more sense. It is because of prophecy being fulfilled, of God’s revealing who he is that we come to know him and believe. Do you believe in Christ’s birth as a fulfillment of prophecy? Is it significant to your understanding of Jesus as Saviour? How?
Jesus came into the world so that we may be saved from sin and be reconciled with God. As we look at Jesus’ birth narrative, the Christmas story, are we understanding the depth of God’s love to fully know who and what Jesus represents for us?
Who is the baby in the manger and how has his birth life and death and resurrection impacted your life?
God of grace we thank you for Jesus, born in Bethlehem as the prophets foretold. We thank you that you love so much that you would enable these events from history to be fulfilled even today through God’s Spirit working amongst us. Enable us to understand Christ Jesus and show us how to love in Christ’s name. Amen.
This reflection is based upon ideas of by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan. The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really teach About Jesus’ Birth. New York: Harper One,1989, p.99-127, ch.6.