“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Wise Men 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
Did you know that the Gospel of Matthew is the only book with a record of the Wise Men and their visit to see the newborn Messiah? I am so glad that the Holy Spirit led Matthew to include this part of the story because it is such a mysterious and wonderful example of the majesty and wonder of Jesus’s birth.
We don’t know very much about these Wise Men (or Magi, as they are also called) except that they had travelled from a far off land in the East, following a star that had appeared in the sky. We know they were scholars because they recognized the star as unusual. And we know that they came to worship.
This part of the story is so meaningful for several reasons, but the first is the reminder that God reveals Himself to us in a way that we can understand. The Wise Men found Jesus in the manger because God used a physical sign to lead them straight to His Son. The Wise Men are the only people we read of who did not find out about the coming of the Messiah from an angel. God revealed Jesus to them in a way that they understood. This is such a sweet reminder to us of the kindness of God that He KNOWS each and every one of us and speaks to us in ways that we can understand.
Another significant thing to notice is how, even though the Wise Men followed the star to find this new king, God’s Word played a powerful and necessary part in their understanding of the sign in the sky. It was God’s Word that led them to Bethlehem! We all love when God does miracles, and when are able to see God work in supernatural ways, it causes us to wonder and worship Him because we SEE Him at work. But remember that God’s written Word, the Bible, is not merely the Christian’s study tool or textbook. It is the living, powerful, very Word of Almighty God! The Wise Men were seeking Jesus, according to the miraculous and reliable Word of God. Just as the star took on meaning as the Wise Men considered the Scriptures, the world around us literally comes alive with hope and meaning as we grow in our knowledge and understanding of God’s written Word, the Bible.
Finally, I love the multicultural nature of this part of the story. Though Jesus was born in the nation of Israel, in the line of David, in the little town of Bethlehem, God chose to include people from far off lands in the miracle of Jesus’s birth. To put it simply, Jesus came for everyone. We know that in Revelation, we read that in the end, people of every nation, tribe, and tongue are found before the throne of God in Heaven singing praises to the Lamb of God, Jesus. These foreign Wise Men showed up with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh—very different from the shepherds who came in from the fields at night, in great haste without any sort of gift to present. Just as God’s use of the star and the angels to reveal Jesus were so different, we all bring something very different and beautiful in our differences. Don’t you love to see and hear people from other cultures worship? Some are loud and festive, others filled with reverence and awe. And this is good! We were not all made to be the same, and the precious treasures that the Wise Men brought were opened and laid before the Son of God as worship. What a beautiful picture of the nature of our God, who created us so different from one another, but loves each the same.
May we remember throughout this season the miracle of how God desires people from every background to come to Jesus. Let us meditate on His Word as we continue seeking Him daily. And finally, let us give thanks to God that He still speaks to us in ways that we can truly hear and understand. Oh come, let us adore Him!