Sermon Notes & References

Messiah and 2018

Matthew 2:1-18

December 31, 2017

A. Events After the First Christmas

    1. Background: From Daniel to Christ


    2. Herod (“the Great”)

        a. His Origin


        b. His Character


    3. The Magi

        a. Who They Were 1


        b. Their Purpose


    4. The Holy Family 2


B. Life After This Past Christmas

    1. A Time of Joy


    2. Back into the World 3


    3. This World’s Character

1 Matthew 2:1-18. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  “Messiah and 2018"


A. Events After the First Christmas

    1. From Daniel to Christ

        a. The Four Kingdoms

            (A)    Babylonian – Nebuchadnezzar to Belshazzar

            (B)    Medo-Persian – Cyrus and Darius

            (C)   Grecian

                 (1)    Alexander the Great

                 (2)    his four generals

                 (3)    Seleucids & Antiochus Epiphanes

                 (4)    the Maccabees – Hasmonean Dynasty – priests

                 (5)    sought and got Roman alliance, 139BC

                 (6)    John Hyrcanus – ruled as king – forced Idumean conversion to Judaism – also invaded & brutally conquered Samaria

            (D)   Roman – Mark Anthony & Octavian (Augustus Caesar)– ended Jewish independence


    2. Herod (“the Great”)

        a. His Origin

            (A)    son of Antipater the Idumean

            (B)    who appointed him governor, 47BC, showing brutal repression of a revolt in Galilee in that role

            (C)   established by Rome as King of Judea, 37BC

            (D)   married Mariamne, Hasmonean princess, to get Jewish favour

            (E)    4BC died after long, severe illness, both physical and mental

        b. His Character

            (A)    OT shows dysfunction between Jacob & Esau continued in the respective nations they founded

            (B)    nominally a Jewish proselyte, but not in actions

            (C)   spent lavish amount on building projects, including the temple

            (D)   after building temple killed 46 of Sanhedrin, appointed his own high priest

            (E)    did much to stabilise the political scene in Judea, but it was done through the exercise of ruthless power

            (F)    became increasingly paranoid with age regarding being king

            (G)   had his favourite wife, Mariamne, and her two sons put to death in fear that they were plotting to take over the throne

            (H)   the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem – a relatively small number of children in a small town – was much overshadowed by Herod’s other atrocities

            (I)    despite his protestations, had no intent to worship this child

                 (1)    his careful enquiry as to time was to find the child’s age

                 (2)    two years and under – giving plenty of leeway so this threat to his throne would not escape

                 (3)    nor had the religious experts any such incentive – neither the priests (Sadducees) nor the scribes (Pharisees) were willing to jeopardise their positions in visiting this Child

            (J)    MacLaren: absurdity of Herod’s crafty counsel 2

                 (1)    if not Messiah, no cause for alarm

                 (2)    if Messiah, his efforts fruitless


    3. The Magi

        a. Who They Were

            (A)    the gifts they brought – especially the frankincense and myrrh – were products of Arabia, but could have been bought on the way

            (B)    the term Magi was used of wise men of the eastern countries of Babylonia, Media and Persia; names & numbers unknown

            (C)   specifically of Medo-Persian soothsayers & astrologers

            (D)   the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism was monotheistic

            (E)    knowledge of the expectation of Jewish Messiah was widespread

                 (1)    6-7 million Israelis spread from Roman Empire eastward

                 (2)    the influence of Daniel in courts of Babylon, Medo-Persia

            (F)    to come from Babylon, a trip of about 4½ months for Ezra

        b. Their Purpose

            (A)    to worship – literally kneel down before this king – does not itself suggest that they saw the Child as Divine

            (B)    the presents were the expected as part of a visit to a king

            (C)   the word offer – used in English translations prior to AV – is “bear before” and is the common term used to express sacrifices in OT so that in this there is suggestion of recognition of divinity

            (D)   though their knowledge might have had pagan basis

                 (1)    the Divine guidance shows God accepted it

                 (2)    the Divine warning shows that God was in it

            (E)    a picture of the lesson in God’s word in the NT

                 (1)    the Jews rejected their King: “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:11 NAS)

                 (2)    but these Gentiles recognized this King

                 (3)    rejection of the gospel by the Jews as a nation, spread the gospel to mankind: Romans 11:11ff


    4. The Holy Family

        a. they are now in a house rather than at the place by the inn where the animals were put

        b. the time would seem to be some three to twelve months after the birth

        c. there was the circumcision on the eighth day and presentation in the temple after a further 33 days when Mary’s purification was complete

        d. at that time they would have met both Simeon and Anna in the temple

        e. with his trade as carpenter, Joseph could establish himself in the city of his and Mary’s ancestors

        f.  and now these wise men come

            (A)    bringing gifts suitable for a king

            (B)    but also the attention of cruel, demented King Herod

        g. so the warning from God come to both Joseph and the wise men by means of a dream

            (A)    the wise men do not return to crafty Herod, but take another route

            (B)    the Child, His mother are taken by Joseph to Egypt

                 (1)    about a million Jews then living in Egypt

                 (2)    city of Alexandria had its own Jewish section, privileges

                 (3)    a temple had been built in Egypt to worship the true God

                 (4)    a Roman province but Herod had no power there

                 (5)    75 miles to border, 100 miles to cities in Egypt

                 (6)    had the Magi’s gifts to live upon until they could return

            (C)   fulfilling OT prophecy

                 (1)    The history of Israel is regarded as typical of the Messiah's life. He alone gives significance to that history. He is the true seed of Abraham. In Him the blessing promised to Abraham finds its highest fulfilment. – Galatians 3:16 3

            (D)   after a year or two, Herod dead, but his son so much like him that God’s further warning sends them to Nazareth – all by God’s plan


B. Life After This Past Christmas

    1. A Time of Joy

        a. “Peace on earth, good will towards man” or “men of good will”

        b. family getting together – in person, by telephone, by Skype

        c. some of us even writing our annual family letter

        d. a hiatus in the busy press of life

        e. this year even the weather cooperated – who wanted to go out ?!?!

        f.  Boxing Day sales, the world can hardly wait to resume its greedy way


    2. Back into the World

        a. as the Holy Family were routed out from the peace of Bethlehem, so we are sent back into the world from this oasis of Christmas

        b. “ not of the world” (John 17:14, 16); but we live in it

        c. Peter, James & John must descend from the mount of transfiguration

        d. this is where we will be spending 2018 until next Christmas, when the apparent respect for Jesus, and season of worship returns


    3. This World’s Character

        a. we need not be in doubt as to the world’s true attitude

            (A)    it can be disguised for a brief while as Herod did his to the Magi

            (B)    in the first world war at Christmas 1914 the soldiers on each side had a brief truce in which a game of soccer was played at one place

            (C)   but war resumed at an ever fiercer pace

            (D)   so the battle against Christianity will resume in our courts, in our schools and universities, in our governments, in the work place

        b. We spent some Sundays in the first part of 2017 reading through the book of Revelation in our service

            (A)    there are many ways of interpreting this book

            (B)    manifestly clear that there is a great spiritual battle taking place

            (C)   while the details are hidden to us on earth, Revelation rolls back the curtain so we can see its fierce reality in heaven

        c. as God’s Holy Family – children of God through faith in Jesus Christ

            (A)    in walking through this battle-ground we need Spirit’s guidance

            (B)    in enemy territory, this will be our challenge for the coming year

            (C)   let us covenant that in 2018 we walk so close to Jesus our King, that we be able to overcome every attack of the evil one.




© 2017 by Garth Hutchinson, Faith Fellowship Baptist Church of Aurora (Ontario): may be distributed or quoted freely, only let this be done to the glory “of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus ii.13). Except as noted otherwise, quotations are from the New American Standard version, used by permission. Various other English versions of the Holy Bible may be used in this sermon. Explanatory additions to the Bible text are shown in [braces]. Version identifiers are:


              AV          Authorized (King James) Version of 1769

              NAS        New American Standard version © 1960, 1995 The Lockman Foundation (usually the 1995 edition)

              IGNT       Interlinear Greek New Testament, Zondervan Publishing, 1956; as well as other Greek Texts as W&H, Nestle, etc.

              NIV         New International Version © 1984 by the International Bible Society

              NKJV       New King James Version © 1979 Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers

              Philips     The New Testament in Modern Englis, J. B. Phillips, Geoffrey Bles Ltd

              RSV        Revised Standard Version © 1946, 1952 National Council of Churches of Christ; Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd

              WEY        The New Testament in Modern Speech © 1902, 1912 R. F. Weymouth

Some of the commentaries and resources used in the preparation of this message are identified as follow:

              ACNT –    American Commentary on the New Testament – Matthew, John A. Broadus – Amerianc Baptist Publication Society

              BM       Biblical Museum, Editor James Comper Gray, ca 1870

              CB       Cambridge Bible – A Carr – 1980

              EBC –     The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, © 1986 Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 49530, MI:

              EGT –     The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Hodder & Stoughton; 1903

              JFB   -     Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Jamieson, Fausset & Brown; S. S. Scranton & Co. 1872

              Gill       Exposition of the Old Testament, Exposition of the New Testament, by John Gill, D.D.

              Kerux –   The sermon & illustration data base compiled by Rev. David Holwick at the web-site,

              MacL –    Expositions of Holy Scripture – Matthew 1-8 – Alexander MacLaren, Hodder and Stoughton, 1905

              Ques –    Pasquier Quesnel – The Gospels: with Moral Reflections, &c. – Parry & McMiillan, 1855

              RWP –     Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, by Dr. A. T. Robertson

              TTB      Thinking Through the Bible, Rev’d John McNicol, D.D., © 1944 by the author; The Upper Canada Tract & Book Society.


From MacL, in loc


From CB, in loc