Matthew spent chapter 1 presenting the facts of Jesus’s genealogy and His right to the throne, the eternal throne of David. Matthew also told us of the miraculous conception of this divine child sent from above and the parents God the Father had chosen to deliver Him.
And now that great miracle has taken place just as it was prophesied so many years ago and it appears that those who knew much about those prophecies had many different responses.
There were those who pursued this new born king at great cost to themselves, others who were indifferent, or outraged.
In fact, we find that it was not the Jews at all who took notice. No, instead it was a group of Gentiles. Members, or rather scholars, of what we consider modern day astronomy. These men were thought to be of nobility and they also studied philosophy, medicine, and natural science which is why they were referred to as “Wisemen.”
It also appears that they may have had the foreknowledge, through the prophets of old, about a king that would be born unto the Jews and so when a spectacular light, a star, shone in the sky they left home with their treasures in pursuit of it and Him.
Now this was not your average star from what we are told. There are many different thoughts about its appearance. The Magi refer to this star in verse 2 as, “His star” suggesting it came from God in order to lead them to King Jesus. Others suggest that it may have been a conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars in 6 B.C., and there are other suggestions.
But couldn’t God, who created the heavens, have created a special star to signal the arrival of His Son?
However that star came be, these Magi packed up their greatest treasures and traveled a great, great distance, covering thousands of miles in pursuit of a king. And they followed this star until it stopped shining. This is how they ended up first in Jerusalem in the courts of King Herod.
Now, mind you, there was probably not only 3 “Wisemen” like we have been told or seen in the children’s plays at Christmas. Some have connected the three gifts with 3 gift-givers, but to enlarge our thinking, this was a group of men, a large group of scholarly men, who probably put all of their treasures together to present before this new born King!
A king they knew little about yet caused them to band together and leave their homes with their most costly treasures to travel thousands of miles in order to meet this new born King and honor Him with their greatest gifts.
Now Matthew makes it clear that Jesus was born in “Bethlehem of Judea” (not to be confused with “Bethlehem of Galilee”) and the time of His birth was during the reign of King Herod. King Herod was an evil man and he was known for his extravagant building projects in Caesarea–the Herodian, Masada, and the Temple in Jerusalem which bought him the favor of the Jews.
Herod himself was not a Jew but ruled on the throne of the Jews. His father had won the favor of the Roman ruler Julius Caesar by brutally suppressing rebellion in his region. And because his son was brilliant and even more brutal than his father, the Romans rewarded him with the provinces of Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Perea, and Idumea.
If greatness is measured by the ability to maintain political power, Herod the Great deserved his title.
He was the only non-Jewish ruler to ever successfully maintain peace in Judea, but he was also know for his great cruelty. He had several of his family members executed, including his favorite wife, and he murdered 2 of his own sons for plotting against him. He ordered one just five days before his own painful death.
Because he feared that people would rejoice at his death, he ordered that 70 Judean elders be imprisoned and held until his own death, at which time they were to be executed so that the people would mourn. But instead, it was his sister who released these innocent prisoners and set them free at Herod’s death and the people rejoiced!
Herod’s attitude was one of rebellion. Rebellion against God, the people of God, and the things of God.
He was more interested in his own throne than his own soul and so when these Gentile Magi who had traveled from the east came to Jerusalem and inquired of the One who was born king of the Jews, Herod, we are told, became disturbed and all of Jerusalem with him.
Herod feared being dethroned, and rightfully so. He was a wicked and evil man. But the people of Jerusalem probably feared because of what Herod would do to anyone who might try and usurp or remove him from the throne. And so King Herod called together the chief priests and the teachers of the law and he asked them, “Where is the Christ, the Messiah to be born?”
Knowing the prophecies full well, they replied, “In Bethlehem in Judea, for this is what the prophet has written.” And they quoted Micah 5:2 from the Old Testament scriptures.
After hearing this, Herod called the Magi secretly to find out the exact time the star had appeared to them. And after his secret inquiry, though he was full of evil intent inwardly, he commanded them to carry on with their journey. Herod told them, “Go and make a careful search for the child and as soon as you find him, report to me so that I too may go and worship him.”
What a pious hypocrite! An evil man used by Satan to doing evil things!
The religious leaders of the nation of Israel were alarmed. They knew the scriptures intellectually, but they failed to show any faith or excitement to the news of the new born King. In fact, they were quite indifferent and ignored the signs and words that they knew all too well!
Sadly enough, we see the same treatment of the Son of God today!
As Christians, we are expected by the world to tolerate all their deceptions and lies and embrace the world’s truth which denies the existence of our King and Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The world would like us to tolerate the removal of the 10 Commandments in court rooms, to remove “In God We Trust” from our money, and by no means can we talk about our faith in our schools.
Let’s embrace homosexual marriages and give them the same benefits as the heterosexual couples. Let’s allow them to adopt or raise children in their likeness and let’s totally confuse or mess up our children. Let’s also remove sexual security from our schools, allowing either gender to choose which restroom they want to use.
How far we have veered from God and God’s Word!
We are living in the days when the truth has become as a lie and a lie has become thought of as truth. If we don’t stand up and start doing what we can now, we will never recover. Remember, God is always a prayer or a truth away!
So what is your response to the news about King Jesus? Do you ignore Him, attack Him, or do you diligently seek Him?
True seekers of Jesus Christ find and follow His guidance in the light of His Word!
Are you pursuing Jesus?