The Wisemen: Gospel Analysis
Pastor Edward F. Markquart
Grace Lutheran Church
Des Moines, Washington 98198
The following Bible study is from a larger course entitled THE LIFE OF CHRIST: A Study in the Four Gospels. This 54 week course for the laity will be available for congregations in 2006.
Basic text for the course: SYNOPSIS OF THE FOUR GOSPELS, Kurt Aland, English Edition, P. 10.
#8. THE ADORATION OF THE INFANT JESUS Matthew 2:1-12
-In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, King Herod was known as Herod the Great. He was also known to be a great builder. That is, King Herod built the Temple in Jerusalem which became the scene of Jesus’ final encounters during the last week of his life here on earth. Herod built the Temple Mount, the Herodium, and Masada, and his winter palace in Jericho. The death of Herod in the year 4 BCE is the primary way we date the birth of Christ.
-Wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, These men were astrologers and astrology was a respected science of the stars. In about 7 BCE, there was an unusual conjunction of the planets Jupiter (the king star) and Saturn (the protecting star of Israel).
For ten months that year, this inter-planetary configuration may have been the “guiding star” of the East.
Planetariums today show a recreation of the sky of Bethlehem during Christmas time. With a Google search engine and your computer, type in “Jupiter, Saturn, the birth of Jesus” and you will find about 21,500 websites that illustrate this conclusion from the field of astronomy. After your “Google search,” select a few sites and enjoy the reading.
-Asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage."
Through the link below, examine the Department of the Navy’s website about the star of Bethlehem. The Department of the Navy’s website suggests that Jesus’ birth occurred in 8 BC to 4 BC.
“The nature of the 'Star of Bethlehem' and the actual date of the birth of Jesus Christ are unknown. … Attempts to date the birth of Christ from events related in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke have not been universally accepted. However, most scholars believe that the birth occurred in the period 8 BC to 4 BC.
The description of the 'star' in the Gospel of Matthew (the only mention of the star in the Gospels) is too ambiguous to make possible a definitive identification with known astronomical phenomena of that era. Astronomers have proposed conjunctions of some of the planets as a likely explanation of the 'star.' Possible conjunctions involve Jupiter and Saturn in 7 BC; Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars in 6 BC; and Jupiter and Venus in 3 BC. Other possibilities are appearances of comets in 5 BC and 4 BC, and a nova (exploding star) in 5 BC. Alternatively, there may have been a sighting of the then unknown planet Uranus, which, though faintly visible to the naked eye, was not discovered until AD 1781. lf the appearance of the 'star' was a miracle or a myth, astronomical explanations are unnecessary and invalid.”
-When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.
-They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: "And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.' " Repeatedly, Matthew quotes from the Old Testament, this time from Micah 5:2.
Go to the following link and find several pictures of Bethlehem. This website is worth your time: GO HERE
-Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared.
-Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage."
-When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.
-On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage/worshipped him. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus Christ is King and the primary religious category for Matthew is the kingdom of God. Jealous King Herod would have been enraged at the possibility of another king in his kingdom. Matthew wants us to fall down and worship Christ as our king, the Lord of our lives.
-Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
These three treasures were symbolic. Gold was known to be a gift for a king. Frankincense was burned during the temple worship, symbolic of the prayers offered up to God, our king. Myrrh was used to embalm the bodies of dead people, and the gift of myrrh was a hint that Jesus the King was to die.
Some people ask, “Why were there three wise men when the Bible gives no number?” The answer? Tradition. It seems that the number “three” was associated with the three gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Also, we sing a hymn, “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” In other religious traditions, there are eight and ten wise men.
-And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. In Matthew’s gospel, people experience a dream and God gives them directions in that dream and they obey.
PAINTING AND IMAGINATION: THE WISEMEN
Honors to the holy family: The magi / MASSYS QUENTIN,16,NED, ADORATION OF THE MAGI http://membres.lycos.fr/imagedart/images/mt02b/index.htm
Back to Top