Chuck Foreman – Teaching Pastor
We would not know anything at all about half of the traditional Christmas Story we’re used to if not for Matthew. He’s the only Gospel writer who tells us about the Star of Bethlehem and the wise men from the east who mysteriously appeared in Jerusalem sometime after the birth of Jesus. These Arab astronomers caused quite a stir in the capital city when they showed up asking about the recent birth of a new king in Israel. Herod suspected this might actually be the Messiah. About 30 years later, so did a man named Levi, when a new, young, unconventional rabbi from Nazareth asked him to become one of his students. No Jewish rabbi would have ever paid any attention to Levi. He collected taxes from his own people for Rome—enough to satisfy Rome’s quota and enough more to pad his own pockets. So Levi, whose name Jesus likely changed to Matthew, which means ‘Gift of God’, suspected something was up, just as those eastern astronomers had 3 decades earlier when they saw Jupiter, the king planet and Venus, the queen mother planet align within the constellation of Leo, the Lion…of Judah, to form what looked like the largest heavenly body they had seen in their lifetime.
Matthew obviously had done his homework to learn about the birth story of this rabbi named Jesus who had changed his life. He uncovers the SIGNS, the prophecies in the Hebrew scriptures foretelling the Messiah’s coming. Jesus had fulfilled every one of them. But Matthew, once Levi, is not surprised. Who else would have done for Levi what Jesus had done for him? He had accepted and loved him unconditionally. It changed him. And Matthew, the Gift of God, wants us to know this one, Immanuel, the Shepherd Ruler from Bethlehem who will shepherd his people in the strength of the Lord, so that we can all live securely in his peace. (Micah 5:2-5)