Sermon — Pr. Tony Sikora — Said One Magi to Another, “It just feels Like we Should be in Jerusalem”

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Matthew’s gospel account the second chapter (Matthew 2:1-12).

 

Beloved in the Lord,

It was on the fourth day. On the fourth day God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens and let them be for signs and for seasons, for days and for years.” On the fourth day the Lord created the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to rule the night – and the stars. It was on the fourth day that God created the stars and set the happenings of our text in motion. For the stars were given for signs and for seasons.

The shepherds were given more than a sign, they were given a prophecy. The Lord of all honored them with angels and archangels and all the heavenly hosts praising God and singing, “Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth.” It was the angel from heaven who directed the shepherds to Bethlehem. It was the angel who announced the Lord’s birth. It was the angel who pointed them to a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.

The magi were not given angels. They were given a sign. And their sign was set in motion from the foundation of the world. Their sign was a star. And the star too was prophesied. “A Star shall come out of Jacob and a scepter shall rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17b).

The star was their light. And that light led them to Jerusalem. Where else would one find the king of the Jews? But alas, these magi find no infant king. Herod’s household is barren as are the palace’s of this world. Thus man in his wisdom, even though led by the signs of creation, still cannot find his creator. The magi followed as far as they could but did not find him who was born King of the Jews. This is man’s end when man follows creation. St. Paul says as much when he writes, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse (Rom 1:19-20 ESV). The signs are there and humanity is without excuse but Humanity still hasn’t found what they’re looking for.

If the King is to be found by magi, shepherd, peasant or disciple He wishes to be found with faith. Faith must have an object and that object must come from outside of self. So, rather than turn around and go home, the magi ask, “Where is He who is born king of the Jews?” No longer following the star, the sign, they now seek a word, a direction, a prophecy.

They’re question is humanity’s question, it is the question of questions. “Where is God?” It is a question that humanity has been trying to answer for centuries. The Jews had an answer because the Jews had God’s Word. Where’s is God? God is in Jerusalem. God is in the temple! They could point to it. They could see it. They could visit it. NO Jew would ever think to look inside of himself or herself for God. That would be absolutely ridiculous, silly, and contrary to God’s revelation in His Word. God had promised to be in the temple. God’s presence was connected to His promises.

Now, here come the gentiles, they have no word, these gentiles have only a sign. The sign doesn’t get them to God. The sign gets them to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem the magi find an earthly king behaving as earthly kings behave. No surprise there! What should we expect to find.

People today are still looking to find God. “Where’s God?” they ask. And the sad thing is that too many are listening to the wrong prophets, to false prophets. The magi listened to Micah and they made their way to Bethlehem. But people today are going anywhere and everywhere. Where are you going? Where are you looking? Are you listening to false prophets? Are you following glimmers in the night?

Faith must follow the Word. Too many of us these days would rather follow our feelings. It is our fallen nature that wants to feel and be certain before believing. And it is our fallen nature that makes us feel the way we feel. It is sin that makes us feel bad. It is separation that makes us feel lonely. It is lust that makes us feel dirty. It is guilt that makes us feel shame. It is failure that makes us feel worthless. It is selfishness that makes us feel anger. It is arrogance that makes us feel offended. And rather than repent of our sinful heart we prefer to correct our feelings. And so begins a hard wrought battle to feel good, accepted, clean, proud, valued, peace, and honored. And if I am to change how I feel then I must look inside my heart. I must turn in on myself and seek the divine within. I must open myself to God, empty myself of all my bad feelings and bad thoughts and let God come to me in the quiet still moments of my life. Only then will I find God and feel right about myself and the world I live in.

This is what the world is saying. This is what Oprah is saying. This is why so many false prophets and false teachers are making so much money from you who buy their books, watch their DVD’s, and take their classes at the YMCA. It’s not only silly and foolish but it’s sinful and it’s idolatry! Repent!

Yes, beloved, repent and follow the example of these Magi. Close your eyes to all that glitters before the world and look rather on the despised and foolish things of God. Herod and the priests knew the Word and did not go to Bethlehem. They did not believe the Word. They despised the Word of God and stayed home in their own comfortable houses, but not these magi. They were not concerned with such trivial things. They were seeking the truth not warm feelings. They were seeking the King of the Jews not some Semitic guru who could lead them on the path to emotional liberation. They were seeking after Jesus, not the god within but God in the flesh.

The Word of Micah told them where He was to be born, so they were going to Bethlehem. They weren’t feeling their way. They weren’t trusting their hearts. If anything they were going against what their hearts were telling them. Instead they were following the Word. The were trusting the Word. The Word came from outside of them and gave them directions. The Word gave them certainty.

Following the Word the beheld the star in a new light. They were enlightened by the Word and rejoiced to see the star once more. With the Word and the sign they made their way to a house. In the house was the child Jesus with His mother. No more a stable. No more a stall. No more lying in a manger. They found Jesus and fell before Him. They worshipped Him. They beheld God in the flesh and bowed the knee. Now, I ask you, how many adults would worship a child? How many elders would bow the knee before an infant? Yet, here in this place God manifested His presence to the world that both Jew and Gentile, young and old, male and female, slave and free may draw near. For in the child Jesus God is reconciling the world unto Himself. God is providing the lamb who is take away the sins of the world, your sins. In Jesus God is joining Himself to humanity. He is taking away all loneliness with His presence. He is washing away your dirt with His baptism. He is covering over your shame with His innocent blood shed on the cross. He is exalting your humanity with His own humiliation and suffering at the hands of Pilate. He is calming your fury with the forgiveness of your sins and honoring you by receiving you even as He received these magi.

Thus beloved you are not to search your feelings, follow your heart, listen to Oprah, or the gurus of this world, rather you are to follow and cling to the Word of God and only the Word of God. Like these magi of old you are to heed the voice of the prophets. You are to take to heart the doctrine of the Apostles. You are to listen for the voice of your shepherd. God is where His Word says He is. Thus if there is no Word from God there is no certainty of His whereabouts. And where there is no certainty of His whereabouts you ought not be looking for Him. You might feel like looking over here or over there. And where you look for Him over here or over there might even make you feel good. You might feel warm. You might be comfortable. You might be at ease. You might even be honored by the other people who are also looking over here or over there. But, if there is no promise from God, no Word or teaching that God said He would be over here or over there, then He is most certainly NOT there for you. In fact, what you may be feeling, though you may be feeling good about yourself, your life, and such, what you may be feeling could very well be demonic and therefore dangerous to your eternal welfare.

The Scripture is clear. The Christ is to be found where the Word has promised His presence. And this Christ is to be found only by faith. Therefore, Faith pays no regards to what it sees and feels but clings only to the Word and the blessed sacraments. For these have the sure and certain promises of God’s presence. Where the Word is taught in truth and purity there and only there is God for you. Where the sacraments are given out there, and only there is God for you, to forgive you, strengthen you, uplift you, unite Himself with you, fill you with His Holy Spirit and give you eternal life.

Beloved in the Lord, long ago magi from the east made their way to Jerusalem following the star that had been set in motion from the founding of the world. They failed to make it to Bethlehem on their own, without the Word. So too will you should you continue to follow your feelings or the many and various voices in this world. It was the Word that led them to the Child and it is still the Word leading us to Jesus. You don’t have to travel as far they did. God’s Word is here. The Lord’s Baptism and His Supper are here. These are sure. His whereabouts is certain. In the Word we see, we see light and we are enlightened with His light. In His light there is life, eternal life. And it is for you. AMEN!

 

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!


Comments

Sermon — Pr. Tony Sikora — Said One Magi to Another, “It just feels Like we Should be in Jerusalem” — 17 Comments

  1. A good sermon, but your thoughts on Luther’s take on this? Luther speculates the exact opposite about the Magi going to Jerusalem. He suggests they went there not because they were looking for Christ, but because they assumed everyone else would be as well and that someone there could direct them to Bethlehem, which, according to the text, they knew to be the place of birth of the Christ.

  2. Pr. Sikora – In Luke 2:39 we read that when Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. (This was 40 days after Jesus’ birth?) Because they brought a pair of doves or two young pigeons (what I understand to be the “poor” man’s sacrifice) can we think of them as “poor”? And if they were “poor”, can we understand that the Magi had not given them gifts yet?
    I cannot find where it states that the Magi went to Bethlehem. (Help!) Yes, it is recorded that they knew that Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem, however we are told that Herod told them (“sent”) them to Bethlehem. From Matthew 2:9, it seems that they followed the star, maybe not Herod’s direction? Being directed by God, they may have listened to Him???
    We also read that the star stopped over the place where the child was – in a house. Was this house in Nazareth? Immediately we read that when the Magi left, an angel appeared to Joseph and told him to travel to Egypt. So did Christ Jesus go to Egypt from Nazareth?
    The “two year” reference to the killing of the “Holy Innocents” seems to indicate that Jesus may have been near to two years old when the Magi came bringing gifts. Had Joseph and Mary stayed in Bethlehem for these almost two years and then traveled to Egypt? How does the initial reading (Luke 2:39) fit in here?
    Bottom line – are the Magi at the manger only an assumption? It does look nice in our manger scenes, but is it correct?
    A lot of questions which I know are not pertinent to my salvation – just wondering! Thanks for any clarification.

  3. @Beggar #2
    From Scripture I think you are pretty right on. After the census Joseph and Mary likely stay in Bethlehem those 40 days until the time of the purification of Jesus. Bethlehem is right outside Jerusalem and would have been a short and easy trip rather than going back up to Nazareth then back down to Jerusalem and then back up to Nazareth all in a matter of 40 days with a wife who has just given birth and a new born baby. After they go to Jerusalem for the purification they then likely just keep heading North back home to Nazareth. (a much easier and sensible trip over all.) Perhaps up to as long as two years later then the wise men come, having followed the star. They stop in Jerusalem asking where Jesus is, only to find out that no one even cares that he has been born. Herod tells them what they already know, that Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem. When the wise men leave they don’t go to Bethlehem but rather see the star again and it leads them directly to where Jesus is at, not South to Bethlehem, but rather North to Nazareth. They find Jesus and Joseph and Mary in their home in Nazareth and present him with their gifts. They then head home without stopping to tell Herod where they found the Christ. Thus Herod is left to only speculate as to where Christ is and thus why he likely kills all the boys under 2 in both the city of Bethlehem and in the whole surrounding region. He’s sort of just punching in the dark. To be safe, Joseph and Mary and Jesus are told to go to Egypt. Had Herod heard of where Jesus really was while he was still alive he likely would have sought him out to kill him. No doubt word would have eventually reached Herod about this boy in Nazareth who had had wise men come and bring him lots of expensive gifts and it would have only been a matter of time till he tracked Jesus down.

    Magi at the manger are entirely a fiction and there is nothing to indicate they were there. In fact, you rightly surmise that the preponderance of evidence suggests Jesus was older and living in Nazareth when they finally arrived.

    As a side note, the star seems to at first have been simply a fixed point in the sky leading the wise men to Israel on their journey. It is not until they arrive in Jerusalem that the star actually moves and leads them directly to Jesus home. Luther believes that the wise men stopped in Jerusalem because the star led the wise men there. Once in Jeruaslem the wise men expected the people of the capital to know where their new king was living. Luther suggests the star led the wise men to Jerusalem not because they wise men didn’t know where they were going, but Luther says this was to shame the Jews for not recognizing and rejoicing in the birth of their own Savior. Here Gentiles show up caring more about Jesus than his own people. Since no one knows where Jesus is God once again guides the wise men, this time more directly with the star to precisely where Jesus is.

  4. Dear brothers, interesting speculation in answer to good questions about the timing and logistics of the magi’s visit. While I can’t at this time answer all the questions I can say that I have never read or heard the theory that the magi did not go to Bethlehem. Even Luther says “the wise men had the faith to follow the Word of the prophet Micah . . . They followed the Word, and God comforted them by putting back the star, which led them now to BETHLEHEM and to the very door where the young Child lay. From my readings of Luther his understanding was that the magi appeared sometime after Jesus’ birth and before the presentation in the temple. Why a house? Some have speculated that the “stable” where Jesus was born was actually attached to a house. The greek word used to indicate this is also used in Mark in reference to the upper room. So the stable may have been an extra room attached to the house in which after the birth Jesus, Mary and Joseph would have moved into. Again, all interesting speculation.

  5. I would suggest reading Dr. Jeffrey Gibbs Concordia series commentary on Matthew. He in large part agrees with my “speculation”, except he has the degree to back it up I suppose! 🙂
    “Matthew 1:1-11:1” pages 145-150.

  6. @Rev. McCall #5
    Chemnitz in his harmony suggests what Tony is suggesting. The “troubled” nature of Jerusalem would fit also Chemnitz suggests that is proof that the word of Simeon and Anna had not gone through the city yet, so the magi’s news was troubling to them since they had not heard about this yet.

  7. Dear brothers,
    I struggle with accepting the speculation regarding the magi visiting Nazareth instead of Bethlehem for a number of reasons. 1. The text gives us no reason to think they went to Nazareth. St. Luke does mention the holy family traveling to Nazareth following the presentation, however there is no mention of how long the holy family was there. Granted there are some harmony issues that need to be ironed out between Luke and Matthew but I don’t think having the magi visit Jesus in Nazareth does it. 2. 2000 years of Church history including our Lutheran forefathers believed they went to Bethlehem according to the Word they heard from Micah. 3. For the magi to follow the star instead of the clear revealed Word of God is extremely problematic for faith. Faith comes by hearing and not the sign of the star. Supposing the magi followed the star makes the magi into enthusiasts as they would be going against the revealed Word and will of God through the prophet Micah and following what they saw rather than what they heard. This is the main point of the sermon. That the magi rejoiced to see the star is a confirmation of the Word they heard from Micah. Signs must be interpreted by the Word not contrary to it. This is, I believe, the most powerful argument against the speculation that the magi went to Nazareth.

    Thank you for all your comments and discussion.

  8. Dr. Gibbs admits there is much difficulty in harmonizing St. Matthew and St. Luke’s accounts. I agree. However there is nothing in the text either way to suggest Bethlehem or Nazareth. No matter if Luther and Chemnitz believe Bethlehem and Gibbs Nazareth, the Scriptures are silent and ANY scholar is merely speculating. Following the star is not something replacing God’s Word or contrary to it. They are not enthusiasts and you are painting a deliberate misinterpretation of what I said. Luther clearly states that the wise men followed the star BECAUSE God’s Word directed them to do such. The star is a sign both pointed to and confirmed BY THE WORD. Would you call the shepherds “enthusiasts” because the Word gave them a sign to look for a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths? Come now. The Word clearly told the wise men to look for and follow a star. Doing such does not make them “enthusiasts”. What the Word does not say is that this star must stop over Bethlehem or stop over Nazareth or stop over Jerusalem. Some here seem to be reading this into the text. The star text is from Numbers 24:17 and mentions nothing of Bethlehem.

  9. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #6
    I’m not sure Simeon and Anna’s proclamation would have meant much. Clearly in the following verses Mary doesn’t seem to understand who Jesus is, the teachers in the temple hearing Him as a young boy do not seem to know, and later the crowds believe John the Baptist to be the Christ.
    There is a problem with placing the wise men in Bethlehem as well. Luke clearly states that after the presentation (40 days) Mary and Joseph went to Nazareth. If the wise men come before this and visit Jesus in Bethlehem, how do Mary and Joseph risk going to Jerusalem for the presentation after Herod has just killed all the baby boys and is still actively looking to kill their son? Do they not flee immediately to Egypt after the wise men come as they were told to do? Did they then return a few days later to Jerusalem for the presentation and then go BACK to Egypt until Herod dies? Seems an awfully risky venture to go to Jerusalem and defy the angel in order to do this presentation all while Herod is actively killing baby boys a mere 5 miles away in the surrounding region.
    Thanks for your insights! It is always fun to speculate so long as it does not detract from or confuse God’s Word!

  10. Rev. McCall, I think the text is extremely difficult to harmonize. Now, regarding the issue of the magi as enthusiasts I merely meant to say that they would be such IF they were to follow the star in a direction that differs from that leading to Bethlehem. (btw- there is no scriptural mandate for them to follow the star, nothing in Matthew and nothing in Numbers. A star is mentioned in the text but no Word of God is connected to it in Matthew -not at first anyway, and a star is prophesied about in Numbers but there is no command to follow it.) I don’t think I was mis-representing what you were saying. To follow a star in a direction opposite that of the clear and certain Word from Micah is enthusiasm. The Magi, as are all God’s saints, are bound to the revealed Word of God – not signs. Signs are confirmed by the Word which is why the Magi must have followed the Star to Bethlehem. The Word of Micah confirmed the sign of the star. Thus, for the sake of faith, the star and the Word must be in agreement. Anything that leads away from the revealed Word is enthusiasm and a danger to faith because it creates doubt. Melchoir could have easily said to Balshazar, “Why are we going to Nazareth when the prophet said he was to be born in Bethlehem?” To go against the Word leaves room for doubt. Again, there is nothing in the Matthew text to indicate any destination other than that of Bethlehem. Thus Christendom has always confessed the magi in Bethlehem. Your questions raised about who, what, why and where regarding the harmonization with Luke are good questions, questions that have not been answered in 2000 years.

  11. @Rev. Tony Sikora #10
    “Your questions raised about who, what, why and where regarding the harmonization with Luke are good questions, questions that have not been answered in 2000 years.”

    And likely never will be this side of heaven! 🙂 It is fun to toss them around though. For my final thought though, the OT also did allude to Nazareth, of which Matthew makes explicit mention in Matthew 2:23. It would not have been outside the realm of possiblity for the wise men to have known that as well and certainly would not have been against or apart from God’s Word had they gone there.

    Anyway, your sermon was wonderful and reminded me very much of the Epiphany one that Luther himself preached. I always enjoy reading your sermons and am indeed fed by the Word proclaimed in them.

  12. Thank you for this wonderful sermon, Pr. Sikora!

    I agree that most of this is speculation, but I don’t agree that it’s hard to harmonize Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts. There are many possibilities that are acceptable as to the time frame. What is difficult is coming to a certain chronology.

    I believe that the wise men can and worshiped Jesus in a manger. Herod was not troubled by Anna’s and Simeon’s words about redemption, because none of the Pharisees and scribes or Herod cared about redemption for Israel, as the Gospels teach us plainly. This is why Chemnitz, dare I say it (since I revere him so much), may be off in his assessment.

    The house which the Magi found was the house that the shepherds found, one with a manger in it, as the Palestinian houses were. There was no room for them in the inn, but there was room for them where there was a manger. Stables in those days were connected to the dwellings, maybe the inn, maybe a house (I don’t really buy that Joseph had relatives with whom he could have stayed, since he would have gone there first with his pregnant wife had that been an option). The word for house in Greek really just means dwelling. It could be the cave that is now the church of the nativity, or it could be a part of the inn, or it could be the house of someone who granted them boarding.

    As to the time, they came sometime in between the birth and the dedication of Christ in the temple. The wise men gave Jesus gold, but Joseph needed it for the flight to Egypt. Being Jewish, we can assume that he was fiscally responsible and thought ahead for the trip.

    We don’t know when the star appeared. The wise men say that the king of the Jews had been born. They got this from the Law and some of the prophets which Daniel had brought to the east, but they had no way to identify if Jacob’s star appeared at the conception or birth of Jesus or sometime in between. They simply assumed that he was born.

    Since all is so uncertain as to the time, I conclude several things.

    First, the wise men went to Bethlehem, since the Scripture pointed them to Bethlehem, and the sign of the star could not have contradicted the prophet’s own words. The view that the magi went to Nazareth simply doesn’t hold water.

    Second, the wise men saw the boy King before his dedication, since there was no reason for Mary and Joseph to stay that long in Bethlehem to be registered and taxed.

    Third, I don’t think 12 days from his actual birth to be that unreasonable. The trip from Babylon or Susa would have taken about three to four weeks on camel, but we have no way of determining when they set out. Upon seeing his star in the east, they certainly would have taken the time to find out what it means, which is why I believe the star arose at his conception. Preparing for such a trip could not have been made on a whim, but with thorough study of the Scriptures, prayer, and consultation with other magi.

    That is why I prefer to think of the wise men finding Jesus in the manger, just as the Shepherds found Him, lowly and meek. The gold came and Joseph knew what to do with it, and since he was a righteous man, and not a pietist, he had no conscience qualms about offering pigeons and not the greater sacrifice of a Lamb required by the Law – He held the fulfiller of the Law in his own arms.

    But that’s just my theory after several discussions with pastors, and reading lots of dead guys and a few living guys.

    The main point is what Pr. Sikora actually preached, thanks be to God.

  13. @Pastor Mark Preus #13
    Again, I would say that Nazareth has just as much credibility as Bethlehem. Your dismissal of it as simply “not holding water” doesn’t account for many of the issues unresolved within the text. For instance, just one example is the flight to Egypt after the wise men leave. How would Mary and Joseph have been able to do this and yet still have gone to Jerusalem for the presentation? Why in heaven’s name would Joseph have ignored the angel about fleeing to Egypt and instead have hung around while babies were being slaughtered in that very town simply so that he could present Jesus in the temple? Herod was not so naive to have not understood who Jesus was had he heard of Simeon and Anna’s announcment. He was a vile ruler who would imprison and kill people for little to no reason. An announcement by Simeon and Anna would have certainly been enough.

    I’d say Pr. Sikora is indeed right, there is much difficulty in harmonizing Luke and Matthew and it is not as easy as you make it out to be! 🙂

  14. To any readers I would again encourage you to read Dr. Gibb’s well researched commentary on Matthew 1:1-11:1, available from CPH or hopefully in your pastors library for a good, LCMS scholarly take on this topic!

  15. What about the Magi coming to Jesus after Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem and returned to nearby Bethlehem, possibly to prepare for the return trip to Nazareth?

    Since Luke did not discuss the Magi or Herod’s killing of the children or the trip to Egypt, there is a significant gap of events, and the time they occurred, in Luke’s story. Thus v. 39 would not necessarily mean Mary, Joseph, and Jesus left immediately from Jerusalem to Nazareth. Taking a strictly continuous sequence from Luke’s story is also not suggested by the fact that Luke discusses the death of Herod before he discusses what Herod did after he realized he had been tricked by the Magi.

    Having the Magi come to nearby Bethlehem shortly after the temple visit would be congruent with:

    1. Why two pigeons were sacrificed instead of the more expensive lamb, which would have been affordable if the Magi’s gift of gold were available beforehand.
    2. Herod’s implementation of his murderous plan soon after the Magi failed to return from nearby Bethlehem. It’s not likely a round trip to Bethlehem would take weeks.
    3. The decision by Herod to kill all children under 2 in Bethlehem and the surrounding area, since all Herod had to go on was the Magi’s information on when the star appeared (some suggest it was at Jesus’s conception, 10.5 months earlier), and from the priests where Jesus was born. Two years would include a “security factor” for Herod.
    4. The sequence of events after the Magi had departed (Mt. 2:13-14) in which the family quickly fled Bethlehem to Egypt (using the gold they had been given by the Magi).

    Furthermore, Mt. 2:19-23 suggests that, following his dream in Egypt, Joseph return to Israel, not Judea, until he got there and found to his fear that Herod’s son was in power. It was only after a second dream that he went back to Nazareth.

    If Joseph and his family had originally returned to Nazareth from Jerusalem and been visited there by the Magi before quickly leaving, one might think Joseph would be concerned that Herod’s son might be looking for him there. Also the Magi from the East would have stuck out like “sore thumbs” in a dinky village like Nazareth, and if they had visited there, the townspeople likely would have recalled that in Mt 13:53-57.

    Again, this is not proof, but just some possible explanations. BTW, this problem could be approached using a Bayesian Network analysis.

  16. I know this may be minor stuff, but it is fun. Perhaps Carl is right that a Bayesian Network analysis would work as well. 🙂
    Dr. Gibb’s suggests that Matthew is more concerned with showing OT fulfillment in the story of Jesus birth than Luke. Granted, this is attempting to discern the 3rd level of hermeneutics, as Dr. Voelz says in his book, the authors intent or particular aim/goal with his writing. Gibbs appears to think then that Luke is more concerned with historical accuracy than Matthew. He bases this in part of Matthews selective geneology and details of Joseph, Mary and Jesus’ life that are omitted. This leads him to suggest, again, that Matthew is more concerned with showing OT fulfillment rather than the linear historical accuracy of the birth account.
    So, the ultimate question may be, is Luke more concerned with historical accuracy or is Matthew? Whichever you choose determines the time frame and locations of the rest of the account. So for instance in your approach Carl, you seem to lend more credence to Matthew’s historical accuracy. In doing so one is then left to deal with the Greek sentence in Luke which states that after the presentation the family went to Nazareth, not Bethlehem. If the wise men events all take place within that one sentence clause then why would St. Luke, who is more concerned with historical chronology, simply ignore them and not bother to record the fact that the family returned to Bethlehem to gather themselves together before leaving for Nazareth? Interesting to speculate, but not impossible since Luke doesn’t even bother to record anything concerning the wise men.
    One final thought. Why the mention of the re-appearance of the star by Matthew once the wise men leave Jerusalem? Bethlehem is only 5 miles away and such a small town that surely they didn’t need the star anymore in order to find Jesus. Or upon leaving Jerusalem was the star needed to lead them to Nazareth, where the Christ child (not infant. a curious change in word choice in Matthews account) was now living with His parents?
    I’m leaning towards your account though Carl, as it allows my mind to be at ease since I no longer feel as though I am opposing Luther’s view! 🙂

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