Matthew 2:1-12 relates the visit of the magi or wise men. They had seen His star and followed it to find the future king. Herod was not happy with their appearance for their good news threatened him. To find where the Christ or Messiah would be born Herod went to the Pharisees and the scribes. Having queried when they first would have seen the star, he sent the wise men off to Bethlehem.
It is amazing to think that these men from the East could read the heavens well enough to travel all the way to Judea to visit the saviour of all mankind. The book of Romans tells us that creation declares the reality of our creator. These men found him through creation. The reference material thinks that the Jews who were dispersed throughout the Roman world would have shared their expectation of a Messiah predisposing the gentile world to look for this coming king. It sounds plausible but, if you notice, neither the Pharisees nor their scribes were curious enough to go with these men to investigate what they had travelled so far to see. The Jews were disinclined to talk to gentiles if they could help it. If the Jews were that strongly sharing their faith in a Messiah, why didn’t they go with them? Why didn’t Herod?
The religious community, the very people He was coming to, weren’t that tuned in. Herod is another case. He was threatened by the thought of another king arising in Judea. His kingdom was at stake. This is the very crux of the coming of Jesus. It isn’t simply saving us from our sins but it is the kingdom of God overthrowing the kingdom of the prince of the air. The kingdom of darkness cannot prevail against this coming kingdom. It still can’t if we walk in the kingdom of God.
Herod was not a righteous man. He was evil and dangerous. Matthew tells us that in verse 16 when Herod realized that the Magi had outwitted him, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. What evil lingered in his heart that he would do such a heinous thing? How can anyone in his or her right mind commit such an act? They can’t, and he wasn’t. His inspiration was from the same source that drove Judas to betray Jesus. Kingdom against kingdom! Jesus came to destroy the works of the evil one.
Jesus is the perfect sacrifice for all mankind. He came to the Jew but also to the Gentile. The angels announced his birth to the simple and humble shepherds. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. The rich Pharisees did not see the introduction to the kingdom of God. The poor did! Simeon and Anna as well as the shepherds! The Gentiles too saw the coming kingdom. They came and worshipped him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Verse 10 says they were overjoyed, extremely happy. They gave richly by faith to a baby - seeing the king who would save not only Jew but Gentile too.
Then, being warned in a dream, verse 12, they went home another way. Somehow and in some way the church has come to think that God doesn’t talk to non-Christians. He certainly does when it comes to the way of salvation. If He didn’t, who would be saved? These men were very aware of the presence of the Almighty.
What a great reminder to all of us to be aware of the goodness of our God and not to forget what great things He has done for us, starting with the birth of His son!