In the Old Testament books of 1 and 2 Samuel, we read of the life and reign of David. We are introduced to David as the prophet Samuel comes to Bethlehem to anoint the boy, David, as God’s choice as king over Israel. The compelling story of David’s anointing does not immediately lead to his coronation. Actually, there are many chapters in between the anointed boy king of Bethlehem (1 Sam 16) to when he ascends the throne as king over all Israel (2 Sam 5). In the intervening narratives of the Bible, a growing number of people are recognizing that David is the king chosen by God to rule Israel. Eventually all of Israel acknowledges that David had been the one leading Israel as the Lord’s chosen “Shepherd King” (2 Sam 5:2-3). David’s story then progresses quickly from his coronation to God’s promise to him about a coming “Son of David” who is God’s choice to reign over an eternal kingdom (2 Sam 7). Indeed the hope of the rest of 2 Samuel (Kings and Chronicles also) is in God’s promise to grant authority to one of David’s sons.
Matthew’s Gospel contains a story of similar progression. The Gospel opens with the birth of Jesus, the Son of David. In this story, the angel takes the part of the prophet and heralds the birth of the Son, and it is the Holy Spirit that “anoints” the child through the miracle of the virgin birth (Matt 1:18). Just as in the story of David, not everyone immediately recognizes the authority of this child king. In Matthew 2, King Herod resists God’s chosen king and refuses to cede his authority. Much like King Saul, Herod tries to kill his rival in a hate-filled attempt to save his throne and thwart God’s plan. At the same time, however, magi from the east come to Bethlehem to worship the one who is “born King of the Jews.”
The magi’s adoration of the Christ child begins Matthew’s attention to the ones who are coming to recognize God’s King, the Son of David.
Throughout the Gospel of Matthew, worshippers (disciples) come to follow Jesus though He promises them no immediate life of ease or triumph. Like the story of his “father” David, Jesus’ life is filled with victories and sufferings as God’s plan is accepted or rejected by those around Him. Herod begins a long line of those who refuse to reject the Anointed One (2:4) and who will not be satisfied until He is dead (2:16; 12:14; 16:21; 27:22-23). At the same time, however, the magi begin the processional of unlikely worshippers that come to worship the King of the Jews. These “unlikely” worshippers are exceptional because of their ethnicity (2:1, 8:5, 15:22), profession (9:9) or social status (4:18, 17:15, 26:7). One of the great ironies of Matthew’s Gospel is that those who should have been anticipating the coming of the Messiah often are the ones that express apathy, envy or hatred for him.
The great triumph of Matthew’s Gospel is that the Crucified One (“the afflicted one” in Ps 22) becomes the Resurrected One (“the exalted Servant” in Isaiah 52:13-15) in Matthew 28. Just as the Gospel begins with the magi falling down before Christ to worship Him, now His disciples do likewise in worshipping the resurrected Christ (28:17). The worshipping disciples set the scene for the King to declare His power. He proclaims, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” In other words, the Gospel story that began with a humble child’s birth ends with the reign of the triumphant King (25:31-32). O, worship the King (before it is too late, Ps 2:12).