Summary: Whereas the Magi devoutly and innocently sought out the newly born Messiah-King, wicked King Herod never set his evil eyes upon Him. He, like so many others, never arrived.
The Visitor Who Never Arrived
Christmas “Thwarted Plans” Series
(Matthew 2:1-8, 16-18)
1. A family had twin boys whose only resemblance to each other were their looks. Opposite in every way, one was an eternal optimist, the other a doom and gloom pessimist.
Just to see what would happen, on Christmas day their father loaded the pessimist’s room with every imaginable toy and game. The optimist’s room he loaded with horse manure.
That night the father passed by the pessimist’s room and found him sitting amid his new gifts crying bitterly.
“Why are you crying?” the father asked.
“Because my friends will be jealous, I’ll have to read all these instructions before I can do anything with this stuff, I’ll constantly need batteries, and my toys will eventually get broken.” answered the pessimist twin.
Passing the optimist twin’s room, the father found him dancing for joy in the pile of manure. “What are you so happy about?” he asked.
To which his optimist twin replied, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!” osr.org
Main Idea: Whereas the Magi devoutly and innocently sought out the newly born Messiah-King, wicked King Herod never set his evil eyes upon Him. He, like so many others, never arrived.
I. The MAGI Are An Interesting Group (1-6).
A. We don’t know how MANY there were, perhaps a DOZEN.
In 2nd century, Tertullian suggested that these men were kings because OT had predicted that kings would come to worship him. He also concluded that there were three kings based on the number of gifts mentioned, gold, frankincense and myrrh.
B. The Magi represented a class of royal COUNSELORS.
1. The term could be general: Several godly men belonged to a caste of people known as Magi, or Wise Men. One appears in Genesis, Jacob’s son, Joseph, who served the Pharaoh. Balaam, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
2. The term could be specific: Lambert Dolphin writes:
“The ancient Magi were a hereditary priesthood of the Medes (known today as the Kurds) credited with profound and extraordinary religious knowledge…Darius the Great established them over the state religion of Persia…
…It was at this time that the Magi, in their dual priestly and governmental office, composed the upper house of the Council of the Megistanes (from which we get the term "magistrates"), whose duties included the absolute choice and election of the king of the realm.
It was, therefore, a group of Persian--Parthian "king makers" who entered Jerusalem in the latter days of the reign of Herod. Herod's reaction was understandably one of fear when one considers the background of Roman-Parthian rivalry…”
C. They were probably from the PARTHIAN Empire (Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan).
D. They were probably ZOROASTRIANS.
1. Possibly Zoroastrians (100,000 today in world)
2. Balaam was possibly a Zoroastrian, perhaps Jethro
3. Monotheism, a creator god Ahura Mazda
4. Perhaps acknowledge Yahweh but not well schooled in OT
E. They understood Messiah was born by the STARS.
The Magi only admitted to seeing the star twice: once in the east, and once in Bethlehem. The star's disappearance is what motivated them to seek out Herod. They must have lost sight of it until they came to Bethlehem, and when they saw the star it was in its zenith position right over Bethlehem.
1. The constellations originally theological & predicted Messiah (see Rev. 12:1-6)
2. Balaam predicted the Messiah as symbolized by a star (Numbers 24:16-17)
“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth.” (vs. 17)
F. The Magi were limited in their knowledge of SCRIPTURE (2-6).
II. Wicked Herod Missed His Appointment to VISIT and Destroy Jesus (7-8, 16-18).
A. He was this way throughout his LIFE.
• Had wife and two sons executed
• Had worked deal with Romans, wise men Parthians
• Biggest fear: competitor to his dynasty
B. He feigned KINDNESS because it might serve him to track down and destroy the newborn King.
Herod probably a psychopath. Sociopaths & psychopaths are similar is some ways:
• They don’t care about laws or moral values,
• they don’t care about anyone else’s rights,
• they don’t feel guilty when they do wrong,
• they can both be violent (although not necessarily)
Dr. Scott Bonn from Drew University, “Sociopaths tend to be nervous and easily agitated. They are volatile and prone to emotional outbursts, including fits of rage. They are likely to be uneducated and live on the fringes of society, unable to hold down a steady job or stay in one place for very long…
“Psychopaths, on the other hand, are unable to form emotional attachments or feel real empathy with others, although they often have disarming or even charming personalities. Psychopaths are very manipulative and can easily gain people’s trust. They learn to mimic emotions, despite their inability to actually feel them, and will appear normal to unsuspecting people. Psychopaths are often well educated…