Chapter two relates the account of the wise men, who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We do not know how many of these men came to see Jesus. There were three gifts, so many have assumed there were three men. An angel came to Joseph and warned him of danger from Herod the Great (Herod I), and told him to take his family to Egypt. Herod had all the male children in Bethlehem under the age of two killed. At the end of the chapter, the Lord sent him back, but Joseph settled his family in Nazareth.
Chapter 3 begins with John the Baptist preaching in the Judean wilderness, telling everyone to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” – which Jesus Himself will proclaim as well. John’s manner of dress in verse 4 is distinctly similar to that described of Elijah in 2 Kings 1:8, and that appearance, as well as the diet described, were common to the desert people, who would also be the poorer people of the land. This new and increasingly well-known prophet was attracting much attention from the people, and the religious community (see John 1:19-38). In verse 7, both Pharisees and Sadducees were coming out to watch his baptisms.
The word “Pharisee” means “separated one,” and they were the more popular of the Jewish sects of the times. Many seemed very self-righteous, and imposed strict adherence to teachings and “rules” that were not commanded by God’s word. The term “Sadducees” came from the sons of Zadok, who was the high priest during the days of David and Solomon (1 Kings 1:32-34). They were known as aristocrats and political opportunists; and they had much political power.
Baptism had been required of Gentiles converting to Judaism, but now John was preaching and performing baptism (immersing people in the river Jordan) for repentance – a term not only for remorse and confession, but also for “turning” one’s thinking, way of living, and even one’s mind around to different way.
Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke
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