Summary: The wise men inquired concerning Christ, and listened to God.
WISE MEN STILL SEEK HIM
The second chapter of Matthew’s Gospel begins with a basic fact: “Jesus was born in Bethlehem.” Outside the context of Scripture it would be no more remarkable than saying, “Fred was born in Birmingham,” or “Shirley was born in Cape Town.”
However, the significance of this location was not lost on the chief priests and scribes. According to Micah 5:2, the Messiah/Christ/Anointed One was to be born in Bethlehem. They might well be proud of their head-knowledge of Scripture, but it did not serve them well if it did not bring them to the feet of Jesus.
Strangers from the East came to Judea seeking the one “born King of the Jews.” They sought Him first in Jerusalem. The reaction of King Herod was natural enough. A rival King could mean trouble. The whole City was infected with his agitation.
Herod was troubled. Herod gathered the chief priests to him. Herod inquired concerning Christ.
This could have been the beginning of a happy new year in the life of Herod, but his motives were wrong and he was not altered by what he learned. Herod next secretly called the wise men to himself, and determined what he needed to know from them. Even as he sent them to Bethlehem, the proceedings were beginning to take a sinister turn.
It all came to a head with Herod when the wise men did not return to him. Herod was exceedingly angry, and his rage revealed his true heart as he cruelly sent forth and put to death all the baby boys in Bethlehem.
However, this day does not belong to Herod, but to the wise men. Who were they? Where did they come from? And what did they do?
It is interesting that these men came with their three symbolic gifts in the full expectation and knowledge of the One promised to Israel.
Did they come from Sheba, whence the celebrated Queen had once come to stare upon the wealth and wisdom of Solomon? Had she and her entourage carried the expectation of the Messiah home with them?
Or was their knowledge based on the prophecy of Balaam, who (when he wasn't being rebuked by a donkey, or ensnaring Israel in sin) prophesied:
“I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob;
A Sceptre shall rise out of Israel”
Or had they heard of the Hope of Israel from synagogues which by now were scattered throughout the lands to which Jews had been dispersed when the Babylonians carried them into exile some centuries before?
Whoever they were, wherever they came from, they represented all the Gentile nations. They represented all who would truly believe in Jesus, from both near and far.
The wise men represent all who will seek Jesus, not only from the east, but from all over the globe. The idea that they were “kings” comes from their symbolic fulfilment of Psalm 72:10-11:
“The kings of Tarshish and of the isles
Will bring presents;
The kings of Sheba and Seba
Will offer gifts.
Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him;
All nations shall serve Him.”
In an example to all who will follow, the wise men sought Jesus. The wise men followed what light they had: the star in the East. Where their light stopped, they rejoiced, because now the true Light would be revealed. When they found Him, they worshipped the young child, and offered symbolic gifts.