|Matthew 2:1-12||Read Online|
When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure. Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
—Matthew 2:10-11 (HCSB)
For most of my life, I’ve lived far enough away from city lights to enjoy the wonder and beauty of the night sky. The heavens truly do declare the glory of God (see Psalm 19).
Last year, I got a nice telescope for Christmas, which I’d wanted for a while. I took it out and set it up on the first clear night there was and focused it on Jupiter. You’ve probably seen pictures of Jupiter with its big red spot prominent in the bands of color that circle the planet taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.
So, you might’ve been disappointed with a bright, but colorless dot, about the size of the inside of the letter “o.” Maybe it was a bit smaller. But I could see the dark bands of cloud as well as Jupiter’s four largest moons. I saw this planet, not in a magazine or on the web, but with my own eyes, and I was filled with joy and wonder.
Around 2,000 years ago, a sight in the night sky inspired joy and wonder in some men that we know very little about. They were called magos in the Greek text, which is the plural form of magi, wise men from somewhere in the east.
They were likely astrologers of some sort, perhaps from Mesopotamia and maybe even near ancient Babylon. They came seeking the one “who has been born King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). They came to Jerusalem seeking this child king because they’d seen “His star.”
Scholars are divided as to what this star actually was. Was it a supernatural occurrence placed in the sky by God? Was it a natural phenomenon, a planet, a comet, or indeed a star? Was it some sort of alignment or congruency of a planet in a constellation?
These questions are a study all to themselves, but what’s important is that this sign in the heavens told these wise men that a King of special significance had been born. But they couldn’t find him in Jerusalem. The scribes and chief priests, who were apparently unaware of the sign or its significance, directed the wise men to Bethlehem.
Before they departed, Herod summoned them to a secret meeting to learn from them the exact time the star appeared. This is important because it gives us a clue as to when all this is happening, but you have to dig for it a bit.
Later in this story, Herod ordered the massacre of all male children who were two years old and under “in keeping with the time he had learned from the wise men” (Matthew 2:16). Also, they encountered Jesus as a “child”—and not a baby—when they got to Bethlehem. Although we can’t be certain, it appears as though the wise men arrived to find Jesus not quite two years old.
It was the last leg of the journey. They lifted their gazes toward heaven and saw the star, the sign that had appeared to them two years earlier. It had been a long journey and perhaps even perilous, but at that moment, we’re told they were overcome with joy. They knew that, just around some corner and in some house in this little town, they were going to meet this very special child who has been born “King of the Jews.”
When they came to the house where Mary and Joseph were living they saw Him. That was the moment they’d anticipated for almost two years. They had probably imagined and discussed what it was going to be like in the same way you or I might imagine meeting one of our favorite celebrities.
Finally, they were in the presence of this child. And what did they do? They fell to their knees and worshipped. They gave gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh—each one highly valued and significant. They sought nothing in return, and came all that way simply to worship Him for who He was.
- Why do you think Herod and all of Jerusalem were deeply troubled by what the wise men said?
- The scribes and chief priests knew the prophecy about the Messiah. What does their response to the wise men show us about the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge?
- What do you think significance of each gift given to Jesus was?
- When you seek out Jesus, what draws you to Him? Is it because of what He can do or simply because He’s Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
- What drew you to Jesus the first time?