While you are pondering and praying over what your word will be from God’s Word for this year, let us continue the Christmas Story. Matthew 2:1-8 recounts the story of the Wise Men who came in search of Jesus.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
Herod was an evil king who was appointed ‘king of the Jews’ by Rome. He was remembered for his cruelty, greed for power and his great building projects. He was a Jew but as we can see by the text, he did not know scriptures well. He greeted these foreign Wise Men and found the answer for them as to where the child might be. However, in requesting them to return and tell him where the child was so he could go and worship him, we know this to be a power motivated request so he could eliminate his competition. Herod wanted no one to be more powerful, have his title or live to tell about it.
Since the Wise Men would have seen the Star of Bethlehem in the sky when Jesus was born and it would have taken months for them to travel to Jerusalem, most scholars put their arrival about 1-2 years after Jesus’ birth. Mary and Joseph had decided to stay in Bethlehem after the census. We do not know if it was required that they stay or that they were reluctant to travel again with a young child. The providential hand of God was at work in their staying as they were right where they needed to be when the Magi appeared. It was a fulfillment of scripture and confirmed for history that Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem. The gifts provided by the Wise Men allowed Mary, Joseph and Jesus to escape the evil king Herod’s grasp, as we will see.
What can we learn about the Wise Men and God from this portion of the story? The Wise Men were seekers from the east. They had to have been men of means as they had the funds to undertake this lengthy journey in search of the child. They wanted to find this child of God to worship him. That speaks to me of their profound curiosity and conviction that the child they sought was ‘special’ and to be used of God. They must have had faith in Almighty God and have known His power in their lives. God is an integral part of this story as He caused the Wise Men to see the star in their studies. He put curiosity into their minds to discover who the child was and a desire to go and worship Him. The Wise Men acted upon their curiosity and traveled months to find Jesus. God allowed them to come before Herod and protected them from harm. God’s guiding hand can be seen in the coming and going of the traveling Wise Men.
Where is God leading you? Are you interested in pursuing things of God? Are you willing to ‘put things on the line’ to pursue what God has presented to you? What motivates you to go in search of Jesus? Each of us are seekers like the Wise Men. We need to be sure we are going to the right place for our directions and listen to God daily as we seek to live in this world filled with Herods who would seek to destroy us and our faith. Be sure to check God’s manual for living, the Word of God, the Bible for the best directions for living and then pray and listen to God. Just as He guided the Wise Men, He will provide and guide you as you focus upon Him.