Understanding the Bible 16: A New King of the Jews??? – Wise Men, Herod & Jesus’s Escape to Egypt

A sermon from Canvas:  05 January 2014

The story of the magi is foundational to Matthew’s Gospel both historically and symbolically.  Historically it places Jesus’s early life in the larger context of the reign of Herod the Great, and sets the stage for a confrontation between three kingdoms:  Rome, Jerusalem, and the “kingdom of God” (a topic we will explore in much greater detail in the weeks to come).  Symbolically, the recognition of Jesus’ kingship by “wise men” (literally “magi” – referring to astrologers of the Persian court) serves as the beginnings of the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham that through his decedents “all the families of the earth” would be blessed!

In this sermon, Rev. Ian Farrell explores both dimensions of this story, as well as Herod’s horrific “slaughter of the innocents” (the execution of children in the region of Bethlehem in an effort to prevent the new “king of the Jews” from ever being recognized).  Sadly, such an act was well within the capacity of Herod, and surely Jesus would have known that others died while he escaped.  How this shaped Jesus’ later ministry is not spelled out, but it sheds tremendous light on Jesus’ compassion for friend, foreigner and even enemy. 



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