LIFE OF CHRIST
A Harmony of the Gospels
(1) And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out
from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
(2) This census first took place while Quirinius was governing
Syria. (3) So all went to be registered, everyone to his
(4) Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the
city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called
Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
(5) to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was
with child. (6) So it was, that while they were there,
the days were completed for her to be delivered. (7) And
she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling
cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them
in the inn.
Caesar Augustus Luke 2:1
||A Roman family name that became a title.
||In 46 B.C. Gaius Julius Caesar became dictator of
Rome, though not quelling all opposition until 44 B.C.
||They were named according to family, and clan:
||Clan or House
||The family name passed to his adopted son and
ultimate successor, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (Octavian).
||The next four Roman Emperors –
Tiberius, Gaius (Caligula), Claudius, and Nero
– laid claim to the name either on the basis of actual relationship
||The family name thus became so closely associated
with the position of Sovereign ruler that, even after the end
of the Caesarean dynasty, the name was retained as a regal
title equivalent to that of Emperor.
||The Greek for Caesar is “Kaisaros”
– from which came:
||This is from the Greek “Augoustou”,
||Octavian established his ruler ship over the realm
in 31 B.C., and in 27 B.C. the Roman Senate,
becoming known as Caesar Augustus, accorded him the title of
||Later Roman Emperors assumed the title, but
by itself when used as a name, it refers to Octavian.
||The life of Octavian Caesar Augustus
He was born on September 23, 63 B.C., the son of Octavius and his
wife Atia, both of noble families. His father’s death four
years later led to Octavian’s secret adoption by his mother’s uncle,
Julius Caesar. After the death of Julius, the adoption was
made public and young Octavian soon joined a triumvirate with Mark Antony
and Lepidus. These three quickly moved in a ruthless manner to
have 300 senators and 2,000 knights assassinated.
They then successfully defeated Caesar’s assassins at Philippi in 42 B.C.,
and Octavian granted citizenship to the people of this city, Lepidus
was sent to Africa, and Antony made and alliance with Cleopatra,
queen of Egypt. The strained relations between Octavian and
Antony reached a showdown at the battle of Actium, where Antony and
Cleopatra were defeated. Octavian thus emerged the undisputed ruler
of the Roman Empire.
He declined the titles “king” and “dictator”
but accepted the special title “Augustus.”
After the death of Lepidus in 12 B.C., he assumed the title “Pontifex
Judea Luke 2:4
||A geographical term that first appears in the Bible
in Ezra 5:8, where it designates a province of the
||Since most of the exiles who
returned from the Babylonian Exile belonged to the kingdom of
(or had been assimilated into it); they came to be called Jews
and their land Judea.
||Under the Persian Empire, Judea was a
district administered by a governor who was usually a Jew.
||With the appointment of Herod the Great,
Judea was reduced to being governed by a mere proselyte.
||And upon the banishment of Archelaus
(Herod’s son), Judea became annexed to the Roman province of
||Judea’s governors were then Procurators appointed
by the Roman emperor, and their immediate superior was the
Proconsul of Syria, who ruled from Antioch.
Judea was about 55 miles N to S, and the same distance E
to W extending from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea, with
its northern boundary at Joppa, and its southern boundary a
few miles south of Gaza and the southern portion of the Dead Sea.
||Its exact boundary was, however, never
City of David Luke 2:4
Calling Bethlehem "the city of David" was very significant:
|II Chronicles 13:5
||Should you not know that the LORD
God of Israel gave the dominion over Israel to David forever,
to him and his sons, by a covenant of salt?
|Salt contains both Purifying and
|Salt was to be mixed with all of the
Sacrifices and offerings (Leviticus 2:13)
Bethlehem Luke 2:4
||5 miles south of Jerusalem.
||2550 feet above sea level.
||In the hill country of Judea.
||On the main highway to Hebron and Egypt.
||In Jacob’s time it was called Ephrath (referred to as Bethlehem
Ephratah in Micah 5:2), and was the burial place of Rachel.
||After the conquest of Canaan it was called
Bethlehem-Judah to distinguish it from the Bethlehem 7 miles from
||It was the home of
||(the 10th Judge),
||(Ruth’s 2nd husband).
||Here their great-grandson David kept his father’s
sheep and was anointed king by Samuel.
||It was once occupied by a Philistine garrison,
and later fortified by Rehoboam.
||In Jeremiah’s time the caravan in of Chimham
near Bethlehem was the usual starting-place for Egypt.
|The inn mentioned in Luke 2 was a similar one
and may have been the same.
||Modern Bethlehem is a village of less than 10,000.
||The slopes abound in figs, vines,
almonds, and olives.
shepherds’ fields are still seen to the northeast.
Swaddling Clothes Luke 2:7
When a child among the Hebrews was born, it was washed in water,
rubbed in salt, and then wrapped in swaddling clothes; that
is, not garments regularly made, as with us, but bands
or blankets that confined the limbs closely (Ezek 16:4). There
was nothing special in the manner in which the infant Jesus was treated.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by
These were bandages that were tightly wrapped around a newborn child.
rank of the child was indicated by the splendor and costliness of these
|A fine white shawl, tied with a golden band, was sometimes used;
other times a small purple scarf, fastened with a brooch.
|The poor used
broad fillets of common cloth.
A Miss Rogers, an English
lady, who had opportunities far beyond ordinary travelers for observing
the domestic life of the Eastern people, describes the appearance of an
infant thus bandaged:
This was in Jaffa.
|“The infant I held in my arms was so bound in
swaddling–clothes that it was perfectly firm and solid, and
looked like a mummy. It had a band under its chin and across
its forehead and a little, quilted silken cap on its head with
tiny coins of gold sewed to it. The outer covering of this
little figure was of crimson and white striped silk; no sign
of arms or legs, hands or feet, could be seen.”
The child is laid on the cloth diagonally and the
corners are folded over the feet and body and under the head, the bandages
then being tied so as to hold the cloth in position. This device forms the
clothing of the child until it is about a year old, and its omission (Ezek
16:4) would be a token that the child had been abandoned.
(from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database
Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft)
The Inn Luke 2:7
The khan (or caravansary) is a low structure, built of rough stones, and
generally only a single story in height.
It consists for the most part of
a square enclosure, in which the cattle can be tied up in safety for the
night, and an arched floor of the recess for the accommodation of
The “leewan,” or paved floor of the recess, is raised a foot or two above
the level of the courtyard. A large khan might contain a series of such
recesses, which are, in fact, low small rooms with no front wall to them. They are, of course, perfectly public; everything that takes place in them
is visible to every person in the khan.
They are also totally devoid of even the most ordinary furniture. The
traveler may bring his own carpet if he likes, may sit cross-legged upon
it for his meals, and may lie upon it at night. As a rule, too, he must
bring his own food, attend to his own cattle, and draw his own water from
the neighboring spring.
He would neither expect nor require attendance, and would pay only the
merest trifle for the advantage of shelter, safety, and a floor on which
But if he chanced to arrive late, and the “leewans” were all occupied by
earlier guests, he would have no choice but to be content with such
accommodation as he could find in the court-yard below, and secure for
himself and his family such small amount of cleanliness and decency as are
compatible with an unoccupied corner of the filthy area, that must be
shared with horses, mules and camels.
The litter, the closeness, the unpleasant smell of the crowded animals, the unwelcome intrusion of pariah dogs, the necessary society of the very
lowest hangers-on of the caravansary, are adjuncts to such a position that
can only be realized by any traveler in the East who happens to have been
placed in similar circumstances.
In Palestine it not infrequently happens that the entire khan, or at any
rate the portion of it in which the animals are housed, is one of those
innumerable caves that abound in the limestone rocks of its central hills.
The wisdom of God - in the humility of humanity
||The LAMB of God
the SACRIFICE of God
The BREAD of God, providing Eternal Life
(8) Now there were in the same country shepherds
living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
(9) And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and
the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly
afraid. (10) Then the angel said to them, "Do not be
afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will
be to all people. (11) For there is born to you this day
in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (12)
And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in
swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."
(13) And suddenly there was with the angel a
multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
(14) "Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
(15) So it was, when the angels had gone
away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another,
"Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to
pass, which the Lord has made known to us." (16) And
they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying
in a manger. (17) Now when they had seen Him, they made
widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.
(18) And all those who heard it marveled at those things which
were told them by the shepherds. (19) But Mary
kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. (20)
Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the
things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them
There were shepherds - and an angel of the LORD
Luke 2:2 & 9
Luke’s Gospel is the gospel of the poor and lowly. This revelation to the
shepherds acquires additional meaning as we remember that shepherds as a
class, were under the Rabbinic ban, because of their necessary isolation
from religious ordinances, and their manner of life, that rendered strict
legal observance impossible.
Guided by the lamp that usually swings from the center of a rope hung
across the entrance of the khan, the shepherds made their way to the inn
of Bethlehem, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in the
The fancy of poet and painter has reveled in the imaginary glories
of the scene.
They have sung of the “bright harnessed angels” who hovered there, and of
the stars lingering beyond their time to shed their sweet influences upon
that smiling infancy. They have painted the radiation of light from His
manger-cradle, illuminating the entire place till the bystanders are
forced to shade their eyes from that heavenly splendor.
BUT ALL THIS IS BEYOND REALITY...
|Such glories as the simple shepherds saw were seen only by them; and
|all that met their gaze (physically) at the manger was a peasant
of Galilee, and
|a young mother, of whom they could not know that she was wedded maid
and virgin wife,
|with an infant child, whom,
|since there were none to
help, her own hands had wrapped in swaddling-clothes.
A Savior Luke 2:11
from Strong's NT:4982
(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded
Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International
Bible Translators, Inc.)
Why was a Savior necessary?
||"The soul that sinneth, it shall die"
||"The wages of sin is death"
What is sin?
||Anything that is not of faith
||Having respect (showing favoritism) to
||If we know to do good but don't do it
|I John 3:4
||Transgression (not obeying) God's law
|I John 5:17
Who is guilty, and needs the Savior?
||All have sinned
||All have sinned
|I John 1:10
||If we say we have not sinned, we make God a liar, and it
||All are under sin
Christ Luke 2:11
From Strong's NT:5547
Why did it have to be a man to bring salvation?
|I Timothy 2:14
||When the first man, Adam, sinned, it was by his
|I Corinthians 15:21
||"For since by MAN came death,
by MAN came also the resurrection of the
man-faced, a human being
|from Strong's NT:444
|Since sin came deliberately by man, it
must be paid for by man.
|But not just any man, for sinful man
cannot atone sin for another - it had to be a sinless man.
Why could ONE man atone for the sin of the whole
||Death entered by ONE man
||By ONE man the gift of life came to all
||Nothing avails but a new creation
|II Corinthians 5:17
||If anyone is in Christ he is a new creature (creation)
||A man must be born again
|I Peter 1:23
||Being born again, not of corruptible (sinful) seed, but
|Since all humanity is the seed of Adam, and
inherited his sin nature,
Thus, as we all take part in one man's (Adam) sin,
|so all believers are the seed of Christ
(being born again, or born from above),
and inherit His perfect nature.
|so, by faith, we can all take part in the
righteousness of one Man (Christ Jesus).
the Lord Luke 2:11
From Strong's NT:2962
||kurios (koo'-ree-os) (supremacy);
Supreme in Authority
If all have inherited the sin nature from Adam, then where can
salvation come from?
||Adam was created in the Image
& Likeness of God
||Adam was created perfect
||God said: I looked for a man, but
|Psalm 98:1, 2
||His (God's) right and and holy arm =
||No man, so His arm brought salvation
||No help - Mine (God's) own arm brought
The ultimate aim is to restore man beyond the perfection of
||You, therefore, must be perfect
[growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character,
having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as
your heavenly Father is perfect. (AMP)
|II Corinthians 13:11
||Unto a perfect man
||Present every man perfect
||Let patience have perfect work - that
ye may be perfect
||Sinless because of creation
||Sinful because of Choice
||Sinless because of birth
||Sinless because of Choice
||Sinful because of birth
||Sinless because of Choice
Peace on earth Luke 2:14
That is, the gospel will bring peace. The Savior was predicted as
the Prince of peace (Isa 9:6).
The world is at war with God; sinners are at enmity against their
Maker and against each other.
There is no peace to the wicked.
But Jesus came to make peace; and this he did,
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by
||By reconciling the world to God by His
||By bringing the sinner to a state of
peace with his Maker; inducing him to lay down the weapons of
rebellion and to submit his soul to God, thus giving him the
peace which passes all understanding.
||By diffusing in the heart universal
good-will to people - "disposing," people to lay aside their
differences, to love one another, to seek each other's
welfare, and to banish envy, malice, pride, lust,
passion, and covetousness - in all ages the most fruitful causes of
difference among people.
||By diffusing the principles of
universal peace among nations.
If the gospel of Jesus should universally prevail, there would
be an end of war. In the days of the millennium there will be
universal peace; all the causes of war will have ceased;
people will love each other and do justly; all nations will be
brought under the influence of the gospel. O how should each
one toil and pray that the great object of the gospel should be
universally accomplished, and the world be filled with peace!
The dealings of God - in the Majesty of Silence
The inventions of man differ wholly from the dealings of God.
designs there is
does all things in the majesty of silence, and they are seen under a light
that shineth quietly in the darkness, “showing all things in the slow
history of their ripening.”
“The unfathomable depths of the Divine counsels,” it has been said, “were
moved; the fountains of the great deep were broken up; the healing of the
nations was issuing forth: but nothing was seen on the surface of human
society but this slight rippling of the waters: the course of human things
went on as usual, while each was taken up with little projects of his
And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the
Child, His name was called JESUS,
the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
When 8 days were accomplished for circumcising
||He who is eight days old among you shall
be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he
who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who
is not your descendant. (NKJV)
a symbolical and bloody removal of the body of sin (Col 2:11,13;
cf. Deut 10:16; Jer 4:4; Rom 2:29). But as if to
proclaim, in the very act of performing this rite, that there
was no body of sin to be removed in His case, but rather that He was
the destined Remover of it from others, in obedience to express
command from heaven. So significant was this, that His
circumciser, had he been fully aware of what he was doing,
might have said to Him, as John afterward did, "I have need to
be circumcised of Thee, and comest Thou to me?" and the answer,
in this case as in that, would doubtless have been, "Suffer it
to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness"
(Matt 3:14-15). Still, the circumcision of Christ had a
profound bearing on His own work. For since he that is
"circumcised is a debtor to do the whole law" (Gal
But further, as it was only
|the circumcised Savior thus bore about with Him,
in His very flesh, the seal of a voluntary obligation to do
the whole law.
Once more, as it was only
|to "redeem (from its curse) them that were
under the law," that He submitted at all to be "made
under the law" (Gal 4:4-5; 3:13), the obedience to which Jesus
was bound over was purely a redeeming obedience, or the
obedience of a "Savior."
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database.
Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
|by being made a curse for us that Christ could
redeem us from the curse of the law (Gal 3:13), the
circumcision of Christ is to be regarded as a virtual pledge to die;
a pledge not only to yield obedience in general, but to be
"obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phil
name was called
It was on this day, too, that Christ first publicly received that name of
“Hoshea” meant salvation;
Joshua. “Whose salvation is Jehovah;”
but the English modification of the Greek form of the name.
At this time it was a name extraordinarily common among the Jews.
dear to them as having been borne by:
|The great Leader (Joshua) who had conducted them
into victorious possession of the Promised Land
|The great High Priest who had headed the band of
exiles that returned from Babylon.
Henceforth – not for Jews only, but for the entire world – it was destined
to acquire a significance infinitely more sacred as the mortal designation
of the Son of God.
(22) Now when the days of her purification according to the
law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to
present Him to the Lord (23) (as it is written in the law of
the Lord, "Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the
LORD"), (24) and to offer a
sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "A pair
of turtledoves or two young pigeons."
(25) And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem
whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for
the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
(26) And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that
he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
(27) So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the
parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the
custom of the law, (28) he took Him up in his arms and
blessed God and said:
(33) And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were
spoken of Him. (34) Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His
mother, "Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of
many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against
a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts
of many hearts may be revealed."
||"Lord, now You are letting Your
servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
||For my eyes have seen Your
||Which You have prepared before
the face of all peoples,
||A light to bring revelation to
And the glory of Your people Israel."
Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of
the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a
husband seven years from her virginity; (37) and this woman was a widow
of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but
served God with fastings and prayers night and day.38 And coming in
that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all
those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
The days of her purification Luke 2:22
The mother of a child was Levitically unclean for 40 days after the birth
of a son, and for 80 days after the birth of a daughter.
Women on this errand commonly rode to the temple on oxen (that the body of
so large a beast between them and the ground might prevent any chance of
defilement from passing over a sepulchre (grave) on the road).
To present Him to the LORD
The first-born son of every household must be redeemed of the priest at
the price of 5
shekels of the sanctuary: about $2.50.
The Law of the LORD
The word “law” occurs in this chapter 5 times
||according to the law of Moses
||as it is written in the law of the Lord
||according to that which is said in the law of the
||after the custom of the law
||according to the law of the Lord
Luke emphasizes the fact that Jesus “was
made under the law” (see also Gal. 4:4), and accordingly elaborates the details of
the fulfillment of the Law by the parents of both John the Baptist and
Jesus, as Perfect Man, was the only One who ever did
or could fulfill all the Law.
A pair of turtle doves or 2 young pigeons
The proper offering on such occasions was:
||A yearling lamb for a burnt-offering
||And a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering.
But with that beautiful tenderness, that is so marked a characteristic of
the Mosaic legislation (before the legalistic man corrupted it),
who were too poor for so comparatively costly an offering,
were allowed to
bring instead, 2 turtledoves, or 2 young pigeons.
While the lamb would probably cost about $1.75, the doves would cost about
With this humble offering Mary presented herself to the priest.
same time Jesus, as being a first-born son, was presented to God, and in
accordance with the law, was redeemed from the necessity of Temple service
by the ordinary payment of 5 shekels of the sanctuary.
According to Vincent, Mary would not bring the creatures themselves, but
would drop the price into one of the thirteen trumpet–shaped chests in
the Court of the Women.
Simeon Luke 2:25-35
Of Simeon we are simply told that:
||He was a just and devout Israelite
(He had fully consecrated HIMSELF to God,
so that he added a PIOUS HEART to a
||He was endowed with the gift of prophecy.
||His death would not take place till he had seen the
He entered the Temple, and recognizing the Holy Child, took Him
in his arms, and burst into the glorious song:
||The Babe should be “a light to lighten the
||Warning Mary of the deadly opposition He was destined to
||Warning of the national perils that should agitate the days to
Anna Luke 36 & 37
||The daughter of Phanuel
||Of the tribe of Asher:
||One of the 10 tribes of the kingdom of
Israel, several families of which had returned from their
idolatry unto God, in the time of Hezekiah (II Chron. 30:1-11)
||That tribe was celebrated in tradition for
the beauty of its women, and their fitness to be wedded to
high-priests or kings
||They usually did not marry before 13
||She lived with her husband for 7 years
||Lived as a widow for 84 years
(according to the Amplified Bible)
||This would make her at least 104 years old
||Worshipped in the temple night and day with fasting
||Spoke to all who were there of Jesus, the
Messiah (v. 38)
(as Daniel’s 70 weeks were known to be now completed, the more
Jews were in constant expectation of the promised Messiah)
(1) Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of
Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East
came to Jerusalem, (2) saying, "Where is He who
has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the
East and have come to worship Him."
(3) When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him. (4) And when he had gathered
all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he
inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
(5) So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it is written by the prophet:
(7) Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men,
determined from them what time the star appeared. (8) And he sent them
to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child,
and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come
and worship Him also."
|(6) 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.'"
(9) When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star
which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and
stood over where the young Child was. (10) When they saw the star, they
rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. (11) And when they had come into
the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell
down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures,
they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
(12) Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not
return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
Herod the king Matthew 2:1
Herod the Great, who, after a life of splendid misery and criminal
success, had now sunk into the jealous decrepitude of his savage old age,
was residing in his new place on Zion, when, half maddened as he was
already by the crimes of his past career, he was thrown into a fresh
paroxysm of alarm and anxiety by the visit of some Eastern Magi, bearing
the strange intelligence that they had seen in the East the star of a
new-born King of the Jews, and had come to worship Him.
But his craft equaled his cruelty, and finding that all Jerusalem shared
his suspense, he summoned to his palace the leading priests and
theologians of the Jews – perhaps the relics of that
Sanhedrin that he had
long reduced to a despicable shadow – to inquire of them where the Messiah
was to be born. He received the ready and confident answer that Bethlehem
was the town indicated for that honor by the prophecy of Micah.
|Herod, a mere Idumaean usurper, a more than suspected apostate, the
detested tyrant over an unwilling people, the sacrilegious plunderer of
the tomb of David.
|Herod, a descendant of the despised Ishmael and the hated Esau, heard the
tidings with a terror and indignation that it was hard to dissimulate.
|Herod, the grandson of one who, as was believed, had been a mere servitor
in a temple at Ascalon, and who in his youth had been carried off by
Edomite brigands, he well knew how worthless were his pretensions to an
historic throne that he held solely by successful adventure.
The Magi Matthew 2:1
The name “Magi,” by which they are called in the Greek, is perfectly
||Originally it meant a sect of Median and
||It was subsequently applied to pretended
astrologers, or Oriental soothsayers.
||Such characters were well known to antiquity,
under the name of Chaldaeans.
||Their visits were by no means unfamiliar even to
the Western nations.
||There is nothing but a mass of confused and
contradictory traditions to throw any light either on their rank,
country, number, or names.
||They are thought to be kings because of Isaiah 60:3
“And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the
brightness of thy rising.”
||Some of them are thought to be Arabians because of
Psalm 72:10 “The kings of Tharshish and of the isles shall give presents; the kings of
Arabia and Saba shall bring gifts.”
They presented gifts to Him Matthew 2:11
The people of the east never approach the presence of kings and great
personages, without a present in their hands. This custom is
often noticed in the Old Testament.
||To His ROYALTY
||as King of Kings
||To His DEITY
||as LORD of Lords
||It is obtained by making successive incisions
in the bark or by peeling off the bark at intervals,
causing a white juice to flow and form into tears of about one
inch in length. When gathered, the frankincense
consists of a fragrant gum resin in small chunks or beads,
producing an aromatic odor when burned.
||It is regularly mentioned in the Hebrew
Scriptures in connection with worship, and it was an
ingredient of the holy
incense used at the sanctuary.
||To His DEATH
||as Perfect Man – as the Pure Sacrifice
||One of the most valuable of gum resins.
Either naturally or when the stems are injured, the gum
oozes from the shrub like tree. The pale yellow liquid
gradually solidifies and turns dark red or even black.
||This aromatic gum was sold as:
|A spice, used quite often in the
|Points to His death, as He paid the
penalty for sin.
|Points to His suffering, as
He provided our healing:
“By His stripes we were healed.”
(13) Now when they had departed, behold, an angel
of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the
young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I
bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him."
(14) When he arose, he took the young Child and
His mother by night and departed for Egypt, (15) and was
there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was
spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I
called My Son."
(16) Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise
men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all
the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts,
from two years old and under, according to the time which he had
determined from the wise men. (17) Then was fulfilled
what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:
|(18) "A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more."
Herod ... put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem
Seeing that the Wise Men had not returned to him, the alarm and jealousy
of Herod assumed a still darker and more malignant aspect. He had no means
of identifying the royal infant of the seed of David, but he knew that the
child whom the visit of the Magi had taught him to regard as a future
rival of himself or of his house was yet an infant.
Since Eastern mothers usually suckle their children for two years, he
issued his fell mandate to slay all the male children (the Greek word for
“the children” is “tous paidas”, which is masculine, denoting only the
male children) of Bethlehem and its neighborhood “from two years old and
Of the method by which the decree was carried out we know nothing. The
children may have been slain secretly, gradually, and by various forms of
murder; or, as has been generally supposed, there may have been one single
hour of dreadful butchery.
The decrees of tyrants like Herod are usually involved in a deadly
obscurity; they reduce the world to a torpor in which it is hardly safe to
speak above a whisper. But the wild wail of anguish which rose from the
mothers thus cruelly robbed of their infant children could not be hushed, and they who heard it might well imagine that Rachel, the great ancestress
of their race, whose tomb stands by the roadside about a mile from
Bethlehem, once more, as in the pathetic image of the prophet, mingled her
voice with the morning and lamentations of those who wept so inconsolably
for their murdered little ones.
To us there seems something inconceivable in a crime so atrocious; but our
thoughts have been softened by eighteen centuries of Christianity, and
such deeds are by no means unparalleled in the history of heathen despots
in the past century, and of the ancient world.
The Massacre of the Innocents is profoundly in accordance with all that we
know of Herod’s character. The master-passions of that able but wicked
prince were a most unbounded ambition, and a most excruciating jealousy. His whole career was red with the blood of murder:
||He had massacred priests and nobles;
he had decimated the Sanhedrin;
he had caused the High Priest (his own brother-in-law), the
young and noble Aristobulus, to be drowned in pretended sport
before his eyes.
||He had ordered the strangulation of his favorite
wife, the beautiful Asmonaean princess Mariamne, though she seems to have been the only human
being whom he passionately loved (Mariamne, who, as a Maccabaean princess, had far more right to the sovereignty than he did himself).
||His sons Alexander, Aristobulus, and
his uncle Joseph – Antigonus and Alexandra –
his kinsman Cortobanus –
his friends Dositheus
were but a few of the multitudes who fell victims to his
strangulation, burning, being cleft asunder, secret assassination, confessions forced by unutterable torture, acts of insolent and inhuman
lust, mark the annals of a reign that was so cruel that, in the language
of the Jewish ambassadors to the Emperor Augustus, “the survivors during
his lifetime were even more miserable than the sufferers.”
Many Jews had settled in Egypt; not only those who had fled in the time of
Jeremiah; but many others who had settled there also, on account of the
temple which Onias 4th had built at Heliopolis. Those who could speak the
Greek tongue (which Mary and Joseph probably could not) enjoyed many
advantages in that country.
Egypt was now a Roman province, and the rage of Herod could not peruse
them to this place, even if he knew where they were.
"When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son.
| (19) Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of
the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, (20)
saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the
land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child's life are
dead." (21) Then he arose, took the young Child and His
mother, and came into the land of Israel.
(22) But when he heard that Archelaus was
reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid
to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside
into the region of Galilee.
|(23) And he came
and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled
which was spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a
| (39) So
when they had performed all things according to the law of the
Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.
(40) And the Child grew and became strong in spirit,
filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
When Herod was dead Matthew 2:19
It must have been very shortly after the murder of the children that Herod
Only five days before his death he had made a frantic attempt at
suicide, and had ordered the execution of his eldest son Antipater.
His deathbed was accompanied by circumstances of peculiar horror, and it
has been noticed that the loathsome disease of which he died is hardly
mentioned in history, except in the case of men who have been rendered
infamous by an atrocity of persecuting zeal.
On his bed of anguish, in that splendid and luxurious palace that he had
built for himself under the palms of Jericho, swollen with disease and
scorched by thirst – ulcerated externally and glowing inwardly with a “soft, slow fire” – surrounded by plotting sons and plundering slaves, detesting all and detested by all – longing for death as a release from
his tortures, yet dreading it as the beginning of worse terrors – eaten of
worms as though visibly smitten by the finger of God’s wrath after 70
years of successful villainy.
As he knew that none would shed one tear for him, he determined that they
should shed many for themselves, issuing an order that, under pain of
death, the principal families in the kingdom and the chiefs of the tribes
should come to Jericho.
They came, and then, shutting them in the hippodrome, he secretly
commanded his sister Salome that at the moment of his death they should
all be massacred. And so, choking as it were with blood, devising
massacres in its very delirium, the soul of Herod passed forth into the
In purple robes, with crown and scepter and precious stones, the corpse
was placed upon its splendid bier, and accompanied with military pomp and
burning incense to its grave in the Herodium, not far from the place where
Jesus was born.
But the spell of the Herodian dominion was broken, and the people saw how
illusory had been its glittering fascination.
The day of Herod’s death was, as he had feared, observed as a festival. His will was disputed; his kingdom disintegrated; his last order was
disobeyed; his sons died for the most part in infamy and exile; the curse
of God was on his house, and though, by 10 wives and many concubines, he
seems to have had 9 sons and 5 daughters, yet within 100 years the family
of the “hierodoulos” of Ascalon had perished by disease or violence, and
there was no living descendant to perpetuate his name.
Came into Israel ... Archelaus was reigning
It seems to have been the first intention of Joseph to fix his home in
Bethlehem. But, on his way, he was met by the news that
Archelaus ruled in the room of his father Herod.
Archelaus, as though anxious to show that he was the true son of
that father, even before his inheritance had been confirmed by Roman
authority, “had,” as Josephus remarks, “given
to his subjects a specimen of his future virtue, by ordering a slaughter
of 3,000 of his own countrymen at the Temple.”
(41) His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the
Feast of the Passover. (42) And when He was twelve years
old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.
(43) When they had finished the days, as they returned, the
Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother
did not know it; (44) but supposing Him to have been in
the company, they went a day's journey, and sought Him among their
relatives and acquaintances. (45) So when they did not
find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. (46)
Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and
asking them questions. (47) And all who heard Him were
astonished at His understanding and answers. (48) So
when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him,
"Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have
sought You anxiously."
(49) And He said to them, "Why did you seek Me?
Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?"
(50) But they did not understand the statement which He spoke
(51) Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her
heart. (52) And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature,
and in favor with God and men.
Every year at the feast of the Passover
This was the first and most important feast of the year:
||It was called both:
|The Feast of the Passover
|The Feast of Unleavened Bread
||The two feasts forming a double festival.
||It was celebrated on the first month of the
religious year, on the 14th of
Nisan (our April).
||It commemorated the deliverance of the Jews from
Egypt and the establishment of Israel as a nation by God’s
redemptive acts on the night when the Death Angel passed over the
land of Egypt.
||The Feast of the Passover was on the first day.
||The Feast of Unleavened Bread began on the next
day and lasted 7 days (Lev. 23:5-8).
||This combined feast was one of the 3 feasts the
Mosaic Law enjoined to be attended by all male Jews who were
|Ceremonially clean (Exodus 23:17;
Twelve years old Luke
The age of 12 years was a critical age for a Jewish boy:
||At this age a boy of whatever rank was obliged,
by the injunction of the Rabbis and the custom of his nation,
to learn a trade for his own support.
||At this age he was so far emancipated from
parental authority that his parents could no longer sell him as a
||At this age he became a “ben hat–torah,”
or “son of the Law.”
||Up to this age he was called “katon,” or “little.”
||He began to wear the “tephillin”, or “phylacteries (wear on head),” and was presented by his father in the synagogue on a Sabbath, which was
called from this circumstance the “shabbath tephillin.”
All Jewish boys, according to Juda Ben Tema:
||He began to
||Study of the Scriptures
||Study of the
||Study of the
When they had finished the days
Not necessarily the whole seven days of the festival.
With the third day
commenced the so-called “half-holidays,” when it was lawful to return
They returned to Jerusalem Luke 2:45
In alarm Mary and Joseph left the safety of the long caravan with which
they were traveling back to Nazareth (a trip of approximately 2 ½ days), and retraced their steps to Jerusalem.
The country was in a wild and unsettled state. The Ethnarch Archelaus, after 10 years of a cruel and disgraceful reign, had recently been
deposed by the Emperor, and banished to Vienna, in Gaul.
The Romans had annexed the province over which he had ruled, and the
introduction of their system of taxation by Coponius, the first
procurator, had kindled the revolt that, under Judas of Gamala and the
Pharisee Sadoc, wrapped the whole country in a storm of sword and flame.
This disturbed state of the political horizon would not only render
their journey more difficult when once they had left the shelter of the
caravan, but would also intensify their dread lest, among all the wild
elements of warring nationalities which at such a moment were assembled
about the walls of Jerusalem, their Son should have met with harm.
They found Him in the Temple Luke 2:46
The third day they found him in the temple, in some of the
apartments belonging to the temple, where the doctors of the law
kept, not their courts, but their conferences rather,
or their schools for disputation.
And there they found him sitting in the midst of them (v. 46),
not standing as a student to be examined or instructed by them,
for he had discovered such measures of knowledge and wisdom that they
admitted him to sit among them as a fellow or member of their
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition,
Copyright (c) 1991 by
Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)
Jesus was "filled
with wisdom" (v. 40) and His questions and answers amazed the
teachers in the temple.
We must not assume that at the age of twelve Jesus understood as much as
He did when He launched His ministry at the age of thirty (3:23);
for Luke makes it clear that He "increased in wisdom" (v.
But He was already aware of His special mission to "be about [His]
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright (c) 1992 by SP
Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.)
Father's business Luke 2:49
|The Greek here is
||“en tois tou patrós”
||literally be: “in the things of
The Revised Version translates it: “in my Father’s house.”
The Amplified Bible translates it:
"And He said to them, How is it that you had to look for Me?
Did you not see and know that it is necessary [as a duty] for Me to be
in My Father's house and [occupied] about My Father's business?"
Mary’s question was not as to what He had been doing, but as to where
had He been.
Jesus, in effect, answers, “Where is a child to be found
but in his Father’s house?”
Jesus' answer to Mary was not
from disrespect, but from wonder that they did not think to look
for Him in His Father's house first.
He was subject to
them Luke 2:51
The participle and finite verb (in the Greek) denoting
There seems to have been no trouble with Jesus
rebelling in any way against the authority of Joseph before or after the
incident in the Temple. Even that was not rebellion, but a
misunderstanding on the part of Mary and Joseph.