The Magi’s Visit
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men[a] from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising,[b] and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah[c] was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd[d] my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men[e] and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising,[f]until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped,[g] they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
The story falls into several parts: the arrival of the Magi looking for the new-born King of the Jews (vv. 1,2), the answer from the prophet Micah on where the king was to be born (vv. 3-6), the attempt of Herod to have the Magi report to him (vv. 7,8), and the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem where they worshiped the child and presented their gifts (vv. 9-12).
In this story we have Herod. He certainly represents the response of the unbeliever to the news of the coming of the Messiah. He wants to know about it, but is not interested to go four and a half miles to see for himself. In fact, he is more concerned that the presence of the Christ will interfere with his power, with his position, with his lifestyle. The world is filled with people who like Herod want to know, but are not actually looking for the One who will save people from their sins.
But there are the wise men, the focus of the story. The primary application would call for identification with these men. In other words, the way of faith looks for God’s provision of a Savior, and finding it in Jesus, submits to Him and worships Him, even though it may not yet be clear how it will all work out. Over and over again the gospel will call for faith, but as the passages unfold it will be clear that faith in Jesus will be well founded.
Dore, Gustave. THE STAR IN THE EAST. 1891. THE DORE GALLERY OF BIBLE ILLUSTRATIONS, Chicago.
Gossaert, Jan. ADORATION OF THE KINGS. 1515. BIBLE PAINTINGS: THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST.
Bui Duc Lam Quyen (Jenny), Jamie Farley