Summary: Seeing God, Herod the Tyrant and Three Magi "Seekers" and what that means to us today!


January 5, 2020

Matthew 2:1-12

Three Wise Men Outsmarting A Shrewd King

The Reading

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, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

So, they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;

For out of you shall come a Ruler

Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the [b]wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 1And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.

Of course, we have heard the story of the Three Wise Men – Magi paying homage to the Babe Jesus and worship Him many times and in various forms. But let’s review this very dramatic series of events.

Who were these wise men, called magi? We can find several different theories out there as to exactly who these “wise men” were and where they came from. One of the most accepted theories is that the magi (plural of magus) were priestly scientists who studied astronomy and a variety of natural sciences. Many viewed them as seers or sorcerers. Because the word “magus” is of Persian origin, they most likely came from the western region of what we see as Iran today. They were drawn to seek the child king to be found born under a brilliant star to their east. It was natural that they traveled to Jerusalem, believing that the child king would be the next heir to the throne upon which sat King Herod.

Herod was a tyrant king who allowed no infringement upon his title or rule. Thus, when word reached him that there was to be born a King of The Jews, Herod became irate and immediately began to formulate ways to locate and destroy this King of the Jews, before the babe could grow into a viable threat.

The magi arrived in Jerusalem only to be told that the babe was to be born in Bethlehem. As they prepared to travel eastward on to Bethlehem, Herod instructed them to return to Jerusalem and let him know where to find this babe, so that he too could go and worship him.

The magi arrived at the manger scene that we are all familiar with bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The three gifts were indeed quite valuable. They are also another indication of the origin of these three magi, for gold, frankincense and myrrh were naturally mined and harvested in the Persian region. Some scholars believe that the gold represented the royalty of the King of the Jews; frankincense representing His divinity and myrrh representing His death. I don’t struggle with understanding the symbolism but admit to not being able to confirm it as a biblical truth. In any event, very nice and expensive gifts to honor the Christ Child.

These three wise men departed Bethlehem and headed back to where they came from. However, they took a completely different route home to avoid Herod and any possible interception by his army. Why? Because the truth of Herod’s deception had been revealed to them in a dream.

As I read and studied this entire story, I began to sense a modern-day application simply by looking at the main characters and what they are doing.

Who are these characters?

1. We must recognize God in all of this. Of course, it’s all part of God’s plan. But where did that brilliant star come from? God will ALWAYS provide a way for earnest seekers to find the truth of the gospel.

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