What do the wise men teach us? Matthew 2:1-23 (Matthew Week 3) Sunday Worship Service 12/17/23

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Small Group Guide:

Open with prayer.

Go around and give everyone a chance to share about how the past week has been. What’s one highlight? What’s one lowlight?

If your small group has talked about it before, feel free to use this time to hold people accountable to what they’ve asked to be held accountable for previously, and go through the “missional” part of this discussion guide.

The Visit of the Wise Men

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

The Flight to Egypt

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Herod Kills the Children

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
    weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
    she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

The Return to Nazareth

19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Have you ever noticed the wise men (or kings) in the nativity scene and wondered, “what’s that all about”? Today we’re looking at their story, vs. Herod’s. By doing so, we’ll learn what it really looks like to follow Jesus.
Message Outline
The Wise Men…
– Used their resources to pursue Jesus.
– Were open and honest in their pursuit of Jesus
– Joyfully rejoiced
– Were protected by God
– Used his resources to protect himself.
– Was deceitful and impulsive.
– Became furious.
– Tried to take away Jesus’ life.
– Suffered the natural consequences of his actions.

Getting Started

  • Have you ever heard about the wise men before? 
  • What did you learn about the wise men  through hearing about this passage of Scripture taught on? 
  • What do you think the wise men’s journey to go see Jesus was like? 

Diving In 

Read Matthew 2:1-4. The wise men took the resources that they had, and pursued Jesus, while Herod took the resources he had to protect himself. Both of these actions would have had costs and risks involved. What do these actions tell us about the difference between Herod and the wise men? 

  • Take some time and list out all of the resources that you have at your disposal. 
  • Taking a look at your list from above, how well are you using your resources to pursue Jesus, as the wise men did, versus using those resources for selfish means, as Herod did? 
  • What do you need to do in order to use your resources to better pursue Jesus?
  • What would your life look like if you were to use your resources to better pursue Jesus? What effect would doing that have on your life (i.e. more patience, greater self control, having a deeper faith, ect.). 

While reading Matthew 2:1-9, think about the attitude that the wise men have versus the attitude of Herod. The wise men seem to be open, honest, and diligent in their pursuit of Christ, while Herod seems to be deceitful and impulsive. What do you think led to the differences between Herod and the wise men? 

  • Read 2 Corinthians 8:21. How well does your attitude honor the Lord? 
  • How could you better honor the Lord with your attitude? 
  • How would it affect your life if you could honor the Lord better with your attitude? 

Read Matthew 2:10 and 16. What is the difference between the reaction of the wise men versus Herod? 

  • Joy is a major theme of the Christmas story. When you think of your life, what percent of the time are you joyful? What percent of the time are you angry? 
  • Read Proverbs 14:29 and Galatians 5:19-23. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. What would your life look like if you had more joy and less anger? 
  • Spend some time in prayer and ask the Lord to give you more joy, and less anger this Christmas season. 

Applying the Scripture

What are your biggest takeaways from this passage of God’s Word? 

  • What practical step(s) do you need to implement in your life to apply what God has taught you in this passage of Scripture? 
  • How would applying this affect your life and your relationship with the Lord? 
  • Who can you ask to keep you accountable to applying this to your life?


Prayer Time:

Pray for each other in your small group to be faithful take the step(s) that you shared above. Pray for each other and the interactions that they have with those who don’t know Jesus. Pray that God would soften the people’s hearts to what He has for them. Pray that God would give everyone opportunities to share the Gospel.

Staying Missional:

Share spiritual/missional conversations you’ve had where you live, work, and play:

Who did you have a conversation with that took a spiritual/missional turn this week?
What questions did you ask to discover where God is at work in their life, even if they are not aware?
How were you able to share your story of life change or how you have experienced Jesus?
How can you be intentional this week with people where you live, work, and play to have spiritual/missional conversations if the opportunity arises?
Who in your life do you think could be discipleable or open to spiritual/missional conversations?

What’s next?

Discuss the next step for your small group. When will we gather again and what purpose will it fulfill?