Summary: The Wise Men saw the Light, followed the Light, and found Jesus.
Text: “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” (Matthew 2:1).
Who were the wise men?
Where were they from?
How did they receive the message?
Why did they come?
What did they bring with them?
The name or term “wise men” indicates that they possessed some special knowledge or wisdom that the average person did not have. The wise men talked about in our Scripture reading are also called “The Magi”.
We are told they are from the East which could be Mesopotamia (now southern Iraq), Persia (Iran), or even father east. These men were religious leaders as well as philosophical teachers.
The wise men were students of the stars meaning they had a knowledge and understanding of the stars. I believe this was something instilled in them by the Father. They were special in the sense that God incorporated them in His plan of revealing His son who would be born in Bethlehem.
The men were part of God’s plan just as we are a part of His plan. God gave them an awareness of the truth just as He gives us awareness. The difference is they listened and followed God’s direction whereas we do not always listen and follow.
They saw something different in the heavens relevant to the stars and decided this was a message from the Father. As God worked within their minds, they arrived at the conclusion this was a sign indicating a special birth. This special birth was the birth of the King of the Jews.
We know God works in mysterious ways and we are not to question, but we are to listen, believe, and follow directions. When they saw the star, the wise men began their journey to Jerusalem to see the King.
Their purpose was to go and worship the King. They had to travel some distance, but distance was not an issue. You might ask why God did not place the wise men closer or in the town of Bethlehem. When the men saw the star, they were faced with a decision and that was to follow the star or not to follow the star.
When God created man, He gave man the privilege of making choices. If He had not done this, then man’s freedom would have been controlled by God just as a puppet on a string.
Any time man makes a choice or a decision, there is the possibility that obstacles or obstructions may surface. For example, a person might get up in the morning to go to church only to find out that the car has a flat tire. The flat tire is an obstacle. Does the person change the tire and get dirty hands or does the person just forget about going to church?
What if a person is going to work and gets tied up in the traffic on the interstate and is delayed for several hours? This is an obstacle that was not expected, but did occur. Does the person say, “I am not going to work anymore because the traffic issue is unbearable or I might be involved in an accident?”
The wise men might have considered the obstacles they would have to face if they followed the star. For one thing, the distance to Jerusalem was great. Their safety might have been jeopardized and besides that, the mode of transportation was animal (camel or donkey) or walking.
Life is full of obstacles, but we have a God who can help us by-pass or get around any obstacle or obstruction if we will only follow His Word. You and I may consider some task impossible, but “….with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
The wise men were looking for a king. They were looking for a special king, one who would be king over the entire world. King Herod was king over the land of Israel at the time Jesus was born. Scripture tells us: “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king….” (Matthew 2:1).
Herod was a very ruthless, mean and cruel king. He even murdered members of his own family. He had much power, but he lacked compassion. Herod did one thing that captured the respect of the Jews and that one thing involved the renovation of the temple. The renovation process made the temple larger and more beautiful and of course the Jews liked this.
Herod’s mindset and thinking is like what goes on in our world today. There are people who are really critical and even hurtful, but by doing some small positive deed, attract the attention of others who follow them and consider them very worthy.
When Herod received word that the wise men were asking “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (v. 2), he became troubled. Herod became troubled because he feared a successor. Herod feared a baby. Did he think he would live on forever?