Summary: There are three kinds of people with different kinds of reactions regarding the birth of Jesus and which also show that not all people are wise.
Wise Men Finds the Truth about Jesus Christ
Matthew 2.1-12 (RSV) reads as follows: 1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, 2 "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." 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: 6 And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.’" 7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; 8 and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him." 9 When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; 11 and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
A. Not All People Are Wise.
In Matthew 2.1-12, there are three kinds of people with different kinds of reactions regarding the birth of Jesus and which also show that not all people are wise.
1. The Power-Hungry Politicians. King Herod represents this group. In fact, King Herod is afraid and angry about the truth that there is a King greater than he is. It is commonly known that political power means power, prestige and wealth; with these things are propaganda, hypocrisy and lies. However, Christianity proclaims that the best politicians are those who can face the truth about Jesus Christ and those who can live comfortably with the truth. They are those who believe that the ultimate power belongs to God and that they are just stewards of God. King Herod the Great was not one who acknowledged God’s prerogatives and sovereignty. Even today there are few politicians who acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and yet they, too, celebrate Christmas. Of course, for other reasons!
2. The Religious People. The chief priests and the scribes represent the second group of people in our text. They are the perceived authority in the knowledge about God. However, religious people, even in the history of Christianity, had the records of mishandling the truth of God. Many false cults had arisen as a consequence. This is the case of the religious leaders of Judaism during the time of our Lord Jesus Christ. Either they had become so at ease with their positions or they had become so distorted in their perception of the truth. These people were caught unaware with the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ though they know something about it. This shows that knowledge about God is not enough, it is to be coupled with commitment.
3. The Believers. The third group of people is the wise men who can be called the true believers of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why? They came to Jerusalem to worship Jesus – the Messiah that was born. They said: "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".
B. What are the characteristics of the wise men that led them to find the truth about Jesus?
From our passage there are at least three characteristics of the wise men that led them to find the truth about Jesus.
1. Wise men believe that there is an ultimate truth – truth about God. They did not yet know about Jesus Christ but they believe in God. Secularism has taught many people in our generation today that there is no ultimate truth – all truth is relative. However, wise men believe that there is God. There are many reasons to believe that there is God. Actually, in Asia, the question is not whether there is God or not, but which God is the true God! With regards to the wise men in our passage, they must have heard of Israel’s hope through the Jews and might have become convert to Judaism or at least sympathetic to the Jewish belief. Hence, their conception about the Messiah was based on their knowledge of the Jewish Scriptures and beliefs.