|Wise men worship God. Matthew 2.1-12
Popular media can seem to make people who seek after God look like imbeciles, don’t you think? We are weak minded, are a ‘cause’ or need a cause—I take exception to that. People who are wise know that they are not here by accident. Seeking to know how and why they exist, and at some point considering what comes after they take their last breath, they ultimately search after God—some, not until their deathbed.
Step a little closer please, and let’s consider the Magi (we call them the Wise Men) who came to see Jesus. They travelled about 800 miles from Babylon to see him – a long, arduous journey. Yet, they were compelled to make the trip, stopping first at the palace of Herod to ask about Jesus’ specific whereabouts. The Bible does not indicate that there were three men, but since there were three gifts, that has become the legend.
Once again, take a look at Matthew’s description of the event:
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. Matthew 2.1-12
First, I’m curious why these men went in search of Jesus in the first place. Scholarly, science-minded (astronomy) and worshipful? Many folks do not put those qualities together today. Yet they clearly state to Herod that they came to worship the one who had been born. These men came to worship Jesus.
Herod Agrippa was deeply disturbed by their inquiry, since the men referred to the one born as the ‘king of the Jews,’ when he [Herod] was the one who had been appointed “King of the Jews” by Rome! Accordingly, he called together the Jewish high priests and scholars to inquire of them about where such a person would be born. Scripture does not say they had to go and research the matter, discuss or debate it, they knew instantly because they knew what the prophet Micah had said the ‘leader who would rule God’s people’ would come from Bethlehem.1 So too they should have known that even the star had been foretold by the prophet Balaam back in Numbers.2
But first, you might rightly ask, ‘how did these guys even get into the palace to see Herod?’ It is quite likely that they were traveling with a large entourage, probably with a military escort and a gaggle of servants.3 The magi’s imposing arrival and their claim caused quite a stir at the palace in Jerusalem and the town herself.
With the prophetic piece from Micah, the travellers turned south and they once again saw the star that led them to Jesus. Matthew said, in just seeing the star, they were overjoyed! But then when they got to Bethlehem, entered the house and saw Mary and Jesus … they did a most remarkable thing— The wise men bowed down and worshipped Jesus.
This story is remarkable to me in so many ways, but to picture these men, having travelled so far, literally bowing down to a toddler, is beautiful. If they were disappointed to find the ‘King of the Jews’ with no markings of royalty nearby, they certainly didn’t show it! After bowing in worship, they gave him their treasure, and made the long journey back home.
Wise men, indeed wise people, choose to worship God . . . they worship not just the King of the Jews, but the King of Kings, Jesus.
~and if you aren’t there yet in your belief in God, or you’re not fully convinced of Jesus, stay on the journey. The wise men are our example that seeking out Jesus is well worth the travel, the time, and ultimately, our treasure as well!
As my dad used to say, ‘this one hits you right between the eyes’, doesn’t it?
Question: Are you wise? Do you seek to know Jesus?
Christine Todd DiGiacomo
1 – Micah 5.2 2 – Numbers 24.17-19 3 – from a great article entitled, “When they Saw the Star,” by Dr. Henry M. Morris, PhD, printed by the Institute of Creation Research - http://www.icr.org/home/resources/resources_tracts_whentheysawthest...;
How do you express worship, or do you? Why? Why not? What do you make of Paul’s claim in Philippians 2.10 and 11?
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