Matthew 2:1 clearly states that the encounter of the Wise men with King Herod happened after the birth of Jesus. So our story continues….
Matthew 2:1-8 “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘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.’”
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 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.”
When was the last time you went in search of something? Maybe you were looking for your keys, a particular piece of clothing, a special ingredient, an appliance or even a certain type of car? Did you make a plan for your search or have to drive from place to place? Maybe you called ahead or researched it on the Internet. In any case, it took time to search and you were looking forward to finding it. The Wise Men were looking forward to finding the babe, king of the Jews, so they could worship Him. Here are some thoughts about them and their journey. The Wise Men were from the east so that would be in the direction of Persia, Babylon or the Orient. They has been students of astrology if they were studying the stars enough to find the star phenomena that occurred at this time in history. Scholars believe it was a conjunction of planets that came together and then moved in retrograde probably Saturn and Jupiter. We had a similar occurrence just this last week that is very rare as the last time it occurred was in 1220. They were seeking the one born ‘king of the Jews’. This would indicate that they were gentiles. If they had been Jewish, they would have said our king and named him as Messiah. They were also seekers of truth as they had seen the star, been motivated to follow it and traveled hundreds of miles by caravan in pursuit of this ‘king’. These Magi or Kings themselves must have been men of means to be able to take the time and have all the necessary provisions-camels, men, money for this lengthy trip.
What would you do if you were the ruler of a country and someone came and asked where the new king was? We learn several things, not very good either, about King Herod from his words and actions with Wise Men. He was curious about the Wise Men, visiting dignitaries, and their journey. Visitors from the east were probably not an every day occurrence and created a bit of a stir. When Herod heard about their quest to find the ‘new born king’ scripture describes him as disturbed, troubled and all Jerusalem too. Herod was a very powerful tyrannical ruler who was a supreme builder. He shows himself here to be crafty and cunning. Herod told the Wise Men privately what his scholars had said about where the Messiah would be born and suggested they continue their search for this child. I’m sure he did not want it publicly known that there was a ‘new born king’ somewhere that might be the long awaited Messiah, hence the private audience. He asked them to come back and tell him when they found the child so he could worship him too. We learn later this was a crafty lie as he had no intention of sharing his throne with anyone.
What does this teach us about God? For one, all the universe awaited the birth of the Messiah and God used the heavens to declare his arrival. The prophecy in Numbers 24:17 speaks of a star in relation to a new king, “I see him, but not here and now. I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob;
a scepter will emerge from Israel. It will crush the heads of Moab’s people, cracking the skulls of the people of Sheth.” Since the king here was one that would be powerful and crush others, I’m sure this is yet another reason Herod feared a new king and wanted him gone. Another thought is that God can and does use all kinds of people to do His work. Lowly Mary and Joseph, elderly Zachariah and Elizabeth, Anna and Simeon were just ordinary people God used in mighty ways. Here God shows us He can and does use unbelievers to accomplish His plans. Their involvement in the coming of the Savior reminds us that Jesus came to save all people.
Blessings as you ponder anew the arrival of the Wise Men and their seeking hearts.
I would recommend the video The Star of Bethlehem produced by Stephen McEveely. You can look it up on their website at http://www.bethlehemstar.net It is fascinating and really faith confirming about how all the universe proclaims the arrival of God’s Son.