Summary: Contrasting 3 different responses to Jesus... Herod, the Religious, and the Magi.
They say there are 3 kinds of people:
Those who MAKE things happen.
Those who WATCH what happens.
And those who WONDER what happened.
And in our Bible reading today there are 3 kinds of people.
Those who HATED what happened.
Those who MISSED what happened.
And those who LOVED what happened.
How are you responding to Christ this Christmas?
There is more we don’t know about the Magi than what we do know. We don’t know which country they came from. We don’t know what nationality they were. We don’t know how many of them there were. We don’t know exactly how they knew the star was indicating that Jesus was about to be born. All we do know is that they came from the East. They were probably men of noble birth, like Daniel and his colleagues in Babylon. Men who had studied the stars, interpreted dreams, and advised Kings. All we do know is that they knew a King was born. And from this we see more proof that God desires people of all nations to love and worship his Son Jesus. We see that God literally moved the stars in the universe to get these men worshipping his Son.
Today I want us to contrast 3 responses to the birth of Jesus.
The response of Herod, who hated what happened.
The response of the Religious, who missed what happened.
And the response of the Magi, who loved what happened.
1. The Hatred of King Herod
First, consider the hatred of King Herod. He was king of the Jews. But he wasn’t a Jew! He was an Edomite. Related to the Jews but not Jewish. And he’d wormed his way into power. He’d persuaded the Romans to let him rule over Galilee and Judea. To try and make himself more acceptable to the Jews he’d married a Jewish girl. And he was carrying out a huge project to rebuild the Temple. So Herod was an unstable politician. And trying desperately to hold on to power.
When the Magi told him they’d come to worship a new king, it’s not surprising that Herod was, v3, disturbed.
So Herod talked with the Jewish religious leaders. He wanted to find out what the Bible said about the Messiah. Learning of the ancient prophecy by the prophet Micah, he sent the Magi off to Bethlehem. He wanted them to let him know when they found the Messiah. He said he also wanted to worship the new king. But Herod had hatched a murderous plan. He only wanted to kill this so-called King of the Jews.
There are many people in the world today like Herod.
Jesus makes them feel uncomfortable.
Jesus is a threat to them.
They feel like Jesus might take something away from them.
Jesus might change the way they live.
Jesus might take away their power.
They are afraid they may have to stop being self-centred and become Christ-centred.
These people aren’t interested in Jesus’ claim to be king. They won’t take any time to see if it may be true. They’d just rather Jesus was out of the picture. There are a lot of people like Herod today in the UK today.
2. The Indifference of the Religious
Secondly, consider the indifference of the religious. The chief priests and teachers of the law. They are the ones Herod asks about the Bible. He says, ‘Hey where does it say the Messiah/Christ is going to come?’ And they knew where. They tell him, ‘Well, it says in the Micah 5 verse 2 that he’ll come from Bethlehem…’
They know the chapter and verse well. These are the theologians, the believers; they call themselves God’s people. But after verse 6, where are they? They’ve disappeared! The foreigners seek out Jesus. The ordinary, smelly old shepherds seek out Jesus. But the religious people – they couldn’t be bothered!
This is meant to make us search our hearts.
Those of us who know the ‘Book’.
Those of us who are regulars at the ‘Temple’.
See, the principle here is this: Sometimes head-knowledge is a cover-up for proud resistance against God. These people know all ABOUT God, but there’s no passion FOR God. Passivity is
just as bad as hostility. And they miss what God is doing.
3. The Worship of the Magi
Finally, consider the worship of the Magi. And as I read these verses, I have to ask myself if I worship Jesus like they do…
Verse 2, it was a determined worship. This is an amazing story of those who travelled miles and expended huge amounts of effort. Why? They were seeking to know Jesus. That reminds me of what Paul says in Philippians 4… One thing I want: I want to know Christ. How determined are you to worship? Do we wake up and say, how can I glorify Christ my King today? We need to be determined in our worship.