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, and 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!
2 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.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Questions to Think About
- Do you enjoy worshiping 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, but 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.