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Matthew 2:1-23

The King is Here

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • December 20, 2020

The heart is extremely powerful. With the heart, one loves, and one hates. With the heart, one is courageous, and one cowers in fear.

Jesus Christ reveals the condition of each heart because His presence requires that each heart answer a question, “Who do you say Jesus is?”

Even as a Child, Jesus was the “Revealer of Hearts.”

In Matthew 2:1-23, three groups of people are represented, each with their own response to Jesus. From them, we will learn the proper response to Jesus Christ, the King,

It is my prayer, now that we know The King is Here, we will ask Jesus Christ to be the King of Our Hearts.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

The King is Here
Matthew 2:1-23
December 20, 2020


1. The heart is extremely powerful. With the heart, one loves, and one hates. With the heart, one is courageous, and one cowers in fear.

2. But when it comes to the heart, there is a problem and the Lord revealed the nature of the problem in His Word.

Jeremiah 17:9-10, The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.

3. We may not know what is in our own hearts, what drives us, but the Lord knows each of our hearts intimately well.

4. In fact, not only does God know our hearts, He actually reveals what is in our hearts.

5. How does God reveal what is in our hearts? Through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Luke 2:34-35, And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed—and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

6. Jesus Christ reveals the condition of each heart because His presence requires that each heart answer a question, “Who do you say Jesus is?”

7. Even as a Child, Jesus was the “Revealer of Hearts.”

8. In Matthew 2:1-23, three groups of people are represented, each with their own response to Jesus.

9. From them, we will learn the proper response to Jesus Christ, the King,

10. It is my prayer, that this evening, now that we know The King is Here, we will ask Jesus Christ to be the King of Our Hearts.

Matthew 2:1-23


1. According to Luke 2:1-7, Caesar Augustus sent out a decree for a census to be taken of the Roman Empire.

2. At that time, Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth but were required to travel approximately 80 miles south to a little town called Bethlehem, the city of David, because they were “of the house and family of David.” (4)

3. While in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus and placed Him in His first crib which was a feeding trough for farm animals. (7)

4. When we come to the events in Matthew 2, some time had passed, perhaps six to nine months.
a. Jesus is no longer referred to as an infant but is called a Child.
b. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus are living in a house. (11)

5. Matthew is providing proof that Jesus is Messiah, the promised King from the line of King David.
a. His genealogy and how He was conceived is proof.
b. Where Jesus was born and later lived is further proof.
c. Only Messiah the King could fulfill these prophecies.

Transition – The first group that we will look at is the magi. What did Jesus’ presence reveal about their hearts?

I. The Wise Heart Seeks the King

• Who were the magi?
• The word “magi” means “possessor of special or secret wisdom.”
• Magi were astrologers but not like what we think of today.
  ♦They were educated men who were employed by a king to help him make decisions for his kingdom.
  ♦They would look at the placement of the stars to find connections with world events.
• Likely, they came from Babylon or Persia, which means they would have likely been exposed to the Jewish Scriptures when Judah was exiled in Babylon in 586 B.C.
• While looking at the stars, they witnessed a sight they had never seen before.
• A star in the east. They called it “His star.”
• They linked this star to Messiah, the King of the Jews. Why?
• Perhaps it was one of the many Messianic prophecies they had studied, including the one from Balaam.

Numbers 24:17, I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a star shall come forth from Jacob, and a scepter shall rise from Israel

• The magi’s response was the correct one. “We. . . have come to worship him.” (2)
• It was not enough for the magi to simply discern that the King of the Jews had been born.
  ♦Once they knew the truth, they had to meet Him.
  ♦So, they travelled over 900 miles with a large caravan.

Transition – But the magi wanted to do more than just have a “Meet and Greet” with Jesus. They wanted to pay homage to Jesus, the King.

A. The wise pay homage to the King (1-2)

1. What do I mean when I say, the magi wanted to pay Jesus homage?

2. To pay Jesus homage means they wanted to recognize who Jesus is and the great value of His person, even though He was only a Child at the time and had not done anything of significance.

3. It also means that the magi had come to swear their allegiance to Jesus.

ILLUS – Neil Armstrong’s visit to the Huldah Gate

4. The Lord was working through these Gentile magi to declare to Israel and the rest of the world, that the Son of Man, the Messiah, the King is Here.

B. The wise give their best to the King (3-11)

1. Herod was troubled, and all of Jerusalem with him, by the magi’s words. (3)

2. Herod was an Edomite and ignorant of the Jewish Scriptures, so he called the chief priests and scribes to determine where the Christ, the King, would be born. (4)

3. The religious leaders quoted the Messianic prophesy of Micah, which was given around 700 B.C. (5-6)

Micah 5:2, But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.

4. After receiving instructions from Herod to report back to him once they found the Child, they went to Bethlehem, and the star appeared again and led them to where Jesus was living. (7-9)
a. Attempts to determine which star this was, or if it was a comet, are futile.
b. Stars do not behave in the manner described here, disappearing and then appearing, traveling from north to south, then finally stopping over a location.
c. I believe this was a supernatural event similar to the glory of God leading Israel through the wilderness with a cloud by day and a fire by night.

Exodus 13:21, And the LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.

5. The magi’s actions and gifts were a fitting response for those in the presence of the King of kings and Lord of lords. (10-11)
a. Gold is a gift worthy of a King.
b. Frankincense is a gift fit for a Priest because it is an expensive element of the priest’s incense and anointing oil.
  ♦It is obtained by slashing the Boswellia tree and allowing the resin to bleed out into tears.
  ♦The tree has the unusual ability to grow on solid stone.
c. Myrrh is gathered from the cuts of a Myrrh tree, used in embalming and to dull pain. Myrrh was mixed with wine and offered to Jesus on the cross, but He refused it.
  ♦It was also used in anointing His body after death.
  ♦This gift recognized Jesus’ death, the very reason for His coming.

APPL – The magi’s gifts fulfilled a prophecy from Isaiah over 700 years earlier. . .

Isaiah 60:6, A multitude of camels will come to you, they will bring gold and frankincense, and will bear good news of the praises of the LORD

APPL – But in coming so far and then falling down to worship Jesus, they gave Him the greatest honor of all.

• The magi gave their best to Jesus because they were giving Him their hearts.
• When coming to God many people do not understand what it means to truly recognize who He is or His authority over their lives.
• They want God on their terms, but God does not do terms.
• Their actions declare, “This is the way I want God to be. I want Him to make my life easier, blessed with prosperity, free from sickness and disease, filled with honor or recognition.”
• When they should say, “Lord, I recognize that Your ways are higher than my ways. I humbly bow myself before You. Teach me to walk as Your Word instructs me to walk.”

ILLUS – My sister’s example of faith in the midst of tragic loss of her husband.

C. The wise obey God’s commands (12-15)

1. After the magi worshiped Jesus, God warned them in a dream to not see Herod but to go home a different route. They obeyed God. (12)

2. Like the magi, God warned Joseph in a dream to go to Egypt because Herod was going to try to kill Jesus. (13-15)

3. This fulfilled a prophecy found in Hosea 11:1, “OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.”
a. This prophecy identified Jesus with Israel, the people He came to save.
b. Israel’s departure from Egypt marked the start of the Old Covenant through Moses.
c. Jesus’ departure from Egypt ultimately led to the inauguration of the New Covenant, which brought salvation to Israel and all who trust Him.

4. Joseph obeyed God and settled the family in Nazareth, which fulfilled the words of the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.” (19-23)

APPL – When reading the Bible, it is important to observe what it says and what it does not say.

• Notice there is no record of resistance, hesitation, or grumbling, just obedience.
• Obedience is the fruit of faith and the wise obey God’s commands.
• Actions reveal what is in a person’s heart.

John 14:15, If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

Transition – Now let’s look at the remaining two groups, Herod and the Jewish religious leaders. What did Jesus’ presence reveal about their hearts?

II. The Foolish Heart Rebels Against the King

• To put it nicely, Herod was a piece of work.
• His father was a personal friend of Julius Caesar and he acquired the throne with Mark Antony’s help in the Roman Senate.
• He reigned from 37 B.C. to 4 B.C., which helps us determine when Jesus was born.
• Fear and insecurity drove Herod.

Transition – It is important to note that the root of fear is pride. It is also important to note that. . .

A. The root of rebellion is pride

1. Ultimately, pride drove Herod to be first in everything and to control all that he could, especially his place as king.
a. For example, he had his own mother and mother-in-law killed, along with his eldest son and two other sons.
b. In fact, Caesar Augustus said of him, “It’s safer to be Herod’s pig than his son.”

2. The Jews despised Herod because he was not a Jew but an Edomite, a descendant of Esau.

3 Even though Rome gave him the title of king, the Jews would not let him into the Jewish portion of the Temple that he had built because he was not a Jew.

ILLUS – Before he died, Herod ordered the most illustrious men of the whole Jewish nation to be imprisoned in Jericho.

4. When Herod met the magi, he was troubled because he knew a rightful heir to King David’s throne would threaten his reign. (3)

5. Herod lied to the magi and asked them to tell him where Messiah was so that he may worship Him.

6. But God is not mocked. He knew Herod’s heart and thwarted Herod’s plan which led to the fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:15.

James 4:6, God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

APPL – We must see Satan’s handiwork in Herod’s rebellion.

John 8:44, You are of your father the devil. . . He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

APPL – Though Jesus was a Child, His very presence revealed what was in Herod’s heart, pride.

• Herod’s pride drove him to rebel against the very One who could save his soul and give meaning to his life.
• It was true then, and it is true now.

Transition – Let’s turn our attention next to the chief priests and scribes. What did the presence of the King, Jesus Christ, reveal about them?

B. Indifference to Jesus is also rebellion (4-6)

1. They knew the Bible and immediately quoted Micah 5:2 regarding Messiah’s birthplace.

2. Bethlehem is only about five miles south of Jerusalem.

3. Why did they not make the short walk to see Israel’s long-awaited King?

4. Because they were in the “religion business” and wanted nothing to do with the spiritual reality.

5. They knew the Scriptures, but they did not understand them or recognize and submit to God’s authority and power.

APPL – Indifference is passive rebellion.

• This occurs when someone conforms on the outside but is inwardly hard of heart.
• The Pharisees and Jewish leaders were examples of what God does not want us to be.

Joel 2:13, And rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness.

APPL – When we rend our hearts on the inside then God begins to change us from the inside out.

APPL – You see, God is not only the Revealer of Hearts, He is the Healer of Broken Hearts and Lives, the God of New Beginnings. . .

Psalm 147:3, He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.


ILLUS – Heidi’s gift to me the day before our wedding.

APPL – Will you give the key to your heart to the Lord, your best?

• Will you let Him heal your heart and give you a new beginning?
• Will you ask Jesus to be the King of your heart?

Psalm 139:23-24, Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.

1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, [a]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. And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the [b]Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written [c]by [d]the prophet:

And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;
For from you will come forth a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called for the magi and determined from them the exact [e]time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went on their way; and behold, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on ahead of them until it came to a stop over the place where the Child was to be found. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And after they came into the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary; and they fell down and [f]worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And after being warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

13 Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord *appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to kill Him.”

14 So [g]Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. 15 He [h]stayed there until the death of Herod; this happened so that what had been spoken by the Lord through [i]the prophet would be fulfilled: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

16 Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent men and killed all the boys who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity [j]who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. 17 Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children;
And she refused to be comforted,
Because they were no more.”

19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord *appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, 20 “Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.” 21 So [k]Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, 23 and came and settled in a city called Nazareth. This happened so that what was spoken through the prophets would be fulfilled: “He will be called a Nazarene.”


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