Scripture Reading

 December 27, 2020

Scripture Reading Matthew 2:1-23

adapted from The Voice translation

Narrator: Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, in the province of Judea, at the time when King Herod reigned. Not long after Jesus was born, magi, wise ones or seers from the East, made their way from the East to Jerusalem. They made inquiries.

Wise Ones: Where is this newborn, who is the King of the Jews? When we were far away in the East we saw His star, and we have followed its glisten and gleam all this way to worship Him.

Narrator: King Herod began to hear rumors of the wise one’s quest, and he, and all of his followers in Jerusalem, were worried. So Herod called all of the leading Jewish teachers, the chief priests and head scribes,

Herod: Where does Hebrew tradition claim the long-awaited Anointed One will be born?

Scribes and Priests: An ancient Hebrew prophet, Micah, said this:

But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are no poor relation—For from your people will come a Ruler who will be the shepherd of My people Israel.

Narrator: Herod called the wise ones to him, demanding to know the exact time the special star had appeared to them.

Herod: Go to Bethlehem and search high and low for this Savior child; and as soon as you know where He is, report it to me so that I may go and worship Him. Then Herod sent them to Bethlehem.

Narrator: The wise ones left Herod’s chambers and went on their way The star they had first seen in the East reappeared—a miracle that, of course, overjoyed and enraptured them. The star led them to the house where Jesus lay; and as soon as the wise ones arrived, they saw Him with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. They unpacked their satchels and gave Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

And then, just as Joseph did a few months before, the wise ones had a dream warning them not to go back to Herod. The wise ones heeded the dream. Ignoring Herod’s instructions, they returned to their homes in the East by a different route. After the wise ones left, a messenger of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.

Messenger of the Lord: Get up, take the child and His mother, and head to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you it is safe to leave. For Herod understands that Jesus threatens him and all he stands for. He is planning to search for the child and kill Him. But you will be safe in Egypt.

Narrator: So Joseph got up in the middle of the night; he bundled up Mary and Jesus, and they left for Egypt, heeding this guardian angel’s words.

Narrator: After a few months had passed, Herod realized he’d been tricked. The wise ones were not coming back. Herod, of course, was furious. He simply ordered that all boys who lived in or near Bethlehem and were two years of age and younger be killed. He knew the baby King was this age because of what the wise men told him.

This sad event had long been foretold by the prophet Jeremiah:

People: A voice will be heard in Ramah,
weeping and wailing and mourning out loud all day and night.
The voice is Rachel’s, weeping for her children,
her children who have been killed;
she weeps, and she will not be comforted.

Narrator: Joseph, Mary, and Jesus stayed in Egypt until Herod died. This fulfilled yet another prophecy. The prophet Hosea once wrote, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

And after Herod died, a messenger of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt:

Messenger of the Lord: You may go home now. Take the child and His mother and go back to the land of Israel, for the people who were trying to take the child’s life are now dead.

So Joseph got up and took Mary and Jesus and returned to the land of Israel. Soon he learned that Archelaus, Herod’s oldest and notoriously brutal son, was ruling Judea. Archelaus might not be any friendlier than Herod had been. Joseph was simply afraid. He had another dream, and in this dream, he was warned away from Judea; so Joseph decided to settle up north in a district called Galilee, in a town called Nazareth. And this, too, fulfilled what the prophets have taught, “The Savior will be a Nazarene.”

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