Today’s Reading: Matthew 2:1-4
There is an interesting passage in the nineteenth chapter of Luke where Jesus weeps over Jerusalem, prophesying that the city will be leveled to the ground, with not one stone left upon another, because, He says, “you did not recognize the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:41-44). The visitation is a reference to Himself, as the Messiah; and the prophecy was in reference to the siege and decimation of Jerusalem, also proclaimed by old testament prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
It is easy to speculate that the religious leaders of the day, the scribes, chief priests, and pharisees, had only the three years of Jesus ministry to recognize who He was (as if that in itself was not long enough)! In reading the first portion of Matthew chapter 2, however, verses 1 through 4 really stand out. Here we find that the magi had come to Jerusalem from the East, in search of Jesus, who had been born King of the Jews, bringing with them gifts. The gift of gold, symbolizing Kingship on earth; the gift of Frankincense, symbolizing deity; and the gift of Myrrh, symbolizing death.
King Herod was troubled by this I imagine because it was a threat to his throne, so he called on the religious leaders of the day – all the chief priests and scribes – to ask them about messianic prophecies. No doubt there was talk about the mission of the magi, and perhaps Herod was not the only one to feel threatened.
Picture too, if you will, the story of the shepherds in Luke chapter 2 who were visited by angels telling them about the birth of the Messiah. Verses 17-20 in that chapter indicate that they told all they had seen to all who would listen, including the priests! I read a few articles once stating that the unblemished sheep that came from Bethlehem were special, for it was those very sheep, swaddled in cloth so they would not hurt themselves (Swaddling Clothes), that were delivered by these shepherds to the temple for the sacrifice (Why Bethlehem; Migdal Eder, Bethlehem, ISRAEL). There is great significance that Jesus was not only born in Bethlehem, but that He was born in the stables with the sheep!
What does all of this tell us? That the religious leaders in Jerusalem must have known at that time that the Messiah had been born. This means they had thirty years to prepare their hearts and the hearts of the people, teaching the messianic scriptures that referenced the prophecies. But they chose not to believe. Like I said, perhaps they, like Herod, also saw the Messiah as a threat to their authority. For whatever reason, this was the beginning of a 33 year cover-up and deception. That is truly heartbreaking. No wonder Jesus wept over Jerusalem!
The first advent, the coming of the Messiah – His visitation, has been fulfilled. We are now in the second advent, looking once again for the second coming of the Messiah. How many of us, I wonder, will miss the day of this visitation as well? Those who believe and know Him as Messiah, we will not miss it.
Today’s Reading: Matthew 2:1-4, NASB (emphasis mine)
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.