The Christmas narrative found in the Gospel of Matthew is much different from the narrative in the Gospel of Luke. It’s not contradictory, but it is different. It’s as different as men and women.
Luke’s gospel gives us the events of the birth of Jesus from the point of view of Mary. This tells us about the heavenly host, shepherds in the field, the lack of a place in the inn, and the manger. Matthew has none of that.
Matthew’s gospel gives us the events from the point of view of Joseph. In Matthew’s gospel we see the dark side of Christmas. In Matthew we see the world as it is, filled with evil and selfishness.
Luke’s gospel gives the “what” of Christmas in all its beauty. What could be greater than “Glory to God in the highest and peace among men with whom he is well pleased” (Luke 2:14)?
While Luke’s gospel gives us the “what” of Christmas with its beauty and joy, Matthew gives us the “why” of Christmas.
God sent His Son because of what we see in Matthew’s gospel. God came to a broken and hurting world. He came to a world of evil which desperately needed a Savior.
Herod the Great, who reigned as king of Israel from 37 to 4 BC, is one of the central characters in Matthew. Herod rightly belongs in the same sentence as Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, and Saddam. They were all tyrants who murdered their citizens.
Herod killed his favorite wife, two of his sons. and half of Israel’s Sanhedrin. Then, of course, he killed the children of Bethlehem.
Because of such heinous crimes, God sent His Son. Those of us who haven’t killed need the same Savior.
Matthew gives us the why–because we are broken people who need the forgiveness and hope of God in our lives. “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).