Summary: If Jesus was the promised Messiah one might expect that He would be received with all the ceremony possible.
The Adoration of Baby Jesus
If Jesus was the promised Messiah one might expect that He would be received with all the ceremony possible, that crowns and scepters would be laid at his feet, and that the high and mighty princes of the world would humble themselves and bow before Him as His humble servants. This didn’t happen. The first to witness the birth of Jesus were the shepherds (Luke 2:15). They were the first to hear the glorious things concerning Him. They were the first to worship Him and announce His birth. After that, Simeon and Anna spoke of Him, by the Spirit, to all that were willing to listen to what they had to say. The testimony of the shepherds, Simeon, and Anna should have been enough to convince the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem Jesus was the long looked for Messiah, but it wasn’t.
The magi came to Jerusalem because they had seen an extraordinary star that they believed was a sign of the birth of an extraordinary person in the land of Judea. They didn’t ask if the King of Jews had been born. They asked where He was born. There was no doubt in their minds the Messiah the Jews were expecting was born. They came to Jerusalem expecting to see Him. They no doubt expected to see the people celebrating the birth of their King and worshipping Him. What they expected is not what they found.
When Herod heard the magi were looking for the Messiah he was troubled. Although Herod was troubled it seems like the natural thing for the people was to rejoice because they had heard the promised Messiah has come to establish His kingdom. But they weren’t. Matthew tells us Herod was not the only one troubled. He said, “All Jerusalem” was troubled. Why were the people troubled? It is easy to understand why Herod would be troubled. He knew what the consequences of the birth of the King of Jews would be. It is difficult to understand why the people were troubled. It is possible the reason they were troubled was their knowledge of the character of Herod. He was a cruel man who didn’t hesitate to kill anyone who was a threat to him.
It was generally known that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem of Judah. But Herod was not content with what was believed about the birthplace of the Messiah. He called together the chief priests and scribes and asked them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “it is written by the prophet; And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a ruler who will shepherd My people Israel” (Micah 5:2). Bethlehem was the city of David and David the glory of Bethlehem, therefore, David’s son and successor must be born in Bethlehem.
It is interesting how Matthew brings together the information concerning the birth of Jesus. The Gentiles know the time of His birth by a star; the Jews knew the place of it by the scriptures. It would contribute much to the increase of knowledge about Jesus and His purpose for coming to this world, if we shared what we know about Jesus who Jesus is with those who don’t know who Jesus is.
The reason the magi were seeking the birth place of the Messiah was to worship Him. Herod’s reason for wanting to know the birth place of the Messiah was hidden by his claim he wanted to worship the new born king. He was now an old man, and had reigned thirty-five years; this king the magi were seeking was baby, and not likely to be a threat to the reign of Herod. But Herod was a jealous man, like all heads of kingdoms and nations he could not picture a successor of his throne, much less a rival. He came to the conclusion there was only one thing he could do. He must kill this supposed threat. Nothing less will satisfy him. The evil heart of Herod blinded him to the fact if this child is the Messiah, in opposing him, or making any attempts upon him, he would be fighting against God and there is nothing vainer, nothing more dangerous.
The cunningness of Herod is revealed in his secretly calling the magi together and sending them to find the child. He would not openly admit his fears and jealousies. It would be a sign of weakness to let the people know them. So that the magi would not be suspicious of his true purpose for knowing where the new born king was, he covered it with a show of religion. The greatest wickedness that can be done is often concealed under a mask of religion. In the reign of terror in the world today Satan is hiding it under the guise of religion. He is using it to establish his demonic religion in the world and seat his demonic son on the throne of David.