The wise men traveled hundreds of miles by foot and camel across the desert to meet Jesus. They had spent years studying books and the stars of the night sky to determine when this special king would be born. These magi from the East probably came from the remnants of the Persian Empire, from somewhere in what would today be Iraq or Iran. Somehow they knew the prophecies of the Jews, perhaps through records from the days when Daniel and his friends served Nebuchadnezzar and Darius in Babylon. They were educated, wealthy men who left the comfort of their homes for a long and dangerous journey to a place they had never been. They brought expensive gifts for the newborn king and risked ridicule, imprisonment, or even death. They were visiting the notoriously evil current “king of Israel,” Herod the Great, to ask him where the real “King of the Jews” had been born. But none of that mattered to them. The wise men were truly wise because they had come to worship Jesus, and they would not be denied in their quest. Like the disciples of Christ that we read about in the rest of the gospel accounts and the book of Acts, these magi showed devotion to Jesus as the top priority in their lives. Follow their example today: Be wise and worship the King!
1 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 have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
6 ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler, Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” 9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
Questions to Think About
- Do you enjoy worshipping God at church, chapel, and other places? Why or why not?
- What have you given up in the past year so that you could worship Jesus better and more? How do you now view these “sacrifices” that you made compared to the “exceedingly great joy” (verse 10) of knowing Christ more deeply?
- Are there any changes that God might be calling you to make in your life in the next year to help you experience a closer walk with Jesus?
- There might have been more three “wise men;” the Bible doesn’t give us a number and we often guess it was three because today’s passage mentions three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh (one gift in each guy’s hand in the classic nativity scene). Also, notice that these magi visit Joseph, Mary, and “the young child” Jesus in a house, not the stables of the inn. It appears that a few months have passed since Jesus was a baby lying in a manger. He is now sweet little toddler Jesus!
- It is interesting and sad to note that the religious leaders of Israel knew the prophecies about Jesus better than the magi, yet they would not travel the short distance to Bethlehem themselves. Look at the irony. These foreign magi were willing to journey hundreds of miles from their homeland to simply follow a supernatural star and meet another nation’s ruler, while these Jewish experts in the law would not go six miles to see their own King. We sometimes see non-church attending students who are brand-new to our Christian school and the gospel become more excited about loving and serving Jesus than others who have been around the things of God all their lives. Worship has always been a matter of heartfelt devotion to God, not just time spent in physical closeness to His people and His Word.