The wise men traveled to Bethlehem from eastern lands somewhere on the other side of the Arabian Desert. They did not merely wander or let the wind blow them in a haphazard direction without intent.They came on purpose and with purses that were filled with gifts fit for royalty. They came to see, honor, and anoint as true royalty One that had been prophesied from long ago. The ones known as magi came to honor majesty, His Majesty, the newborn King.
These wisemen were not accidental, they were not picked at random, they were part of the “God-story” from the beginning…. but started 600 years earlier. When Daniel was taken captive in Babylon/media, because of his gifts, he was raised to be the most important advisor in every kingdom. The God of Daniel was worshipped and honor in all of Media and Babylon and as the leader of the Magi, wise men, of these kingdoms his work and prophecies would have been written down and passed down for generations….creating a constant search for the coming King of Israel…this story is woven through history after all, it is all “HIS-story”
Matthew’s gospel records the story of the wise men who followed the star that led to the Christ-child bornin Bethlehem.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah (Christ) supposed to be born?”
5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:
6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 8 Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
9 After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.
This newborn baby is referred to as “Christ” in verse four by Matthew. He also begins his gospel with thatsame term in the first verse of chapter one.
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ….(NKJV)
Luke’s gospel also includes the birth narrative of Jesus and quotes the announcement of the angels to the shepherds concerning the arrival with the same word.
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (NKJV)
When a king is set apart, there are gifts that are brought and a time of pouring or rubbing on oil,ointments, and salves as a part of the special occasion. The title “Christ” means rubbed on, anointed. The posture we see historically in royal anointing practices is the same posture we see from the wise men in Matthew’s gospel account.
The wise men are the first ones in the Gospel stories to establish Jesus Christ as being born the “king of the Jews.” Not only did they travel to see him for at least months, and probably over a year, but also, they came with gifts fit for a king. N.T. Wright notes…
“The gifts that the Magi brought were the sort of things that people in the ancient world would think of as appropriate presents to bring to kings or even gods.”
Gold. Frankincense. Myrrh. These were costly items with great value that normally were brought out only for special occasions for those fortunate enough to have them. By the time the wise men made their way to Jesus and saw Him with their own eyes and His mother, Mary and father, Joseph, nearby, the Holy family were situated and living in a house in Bethlehem (v.11). By this time, Mary and Joseph had traveled with Jesus to the Temple for her purification ceremony (Luke 2:22) and his traditional Jewish presentationas the firstborn male from her womb (Luke 2:23-39). Had the wise men made their visit already, Joseph and Mary would have had the means to present a lamb for an offering according to the prescribed law. However, they opted for the pigeon provision because they were too poor to pay for and offer a sacrificial lamb (Leviticus 12:1-8).
By the time the wise men had found Jesus, he was no longer a babe in a manger but a toddler, living in a home. For Mary and Joseph the nights were no longer filled with the cries of a baby but the silent night of a toddler sleeping. The star was the indicator that lit the path for the wisemen to the actual address of the new king. This was a holy moment for the wise men when they viewed the One they had heard about, the prophesies of Daniel that they had read, and traveled to see for so many miles. In the presence of the Christ, it is not unreasonable that all was calm and all was bright. Before them was the father, mother and her child. The holy infant was tender and mild. And it was good for Him to sleep in the silence of the Bethlehem night while he could.
Soon, the fake king of the Jews, Herod would send his soldiers on an errand that would break the silent night into screams of horror. When Herod summoned the wise men upon their arrival into Jerusalem while they still were seeking the true and newborn king of the Jews, Herod wanted to know from these men“what time the star had appeared.” (Matthew 2:7)
The reason Herod wanted to know the time was to understand how long this threat to his assumed throne had been breathing near his palace over in Bethlehem a mere five miles away from where he lived.
Herod frantically found out from his advisors where the newborn Christ King had been born according to the prophecies that he was informed of according to verse 6 (These prophecies were based on the OldTestament prophecy from Micah 5:2)…. Matthew 2:6
“And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”
The magi told Herod what he needed to know. They had seen the star in their lands at such a time that with quick math indicated the newborn king could not be more than two years old. After the wise men did not go back to relay the information Herod asked them to give concerning Jesus’ location, he sent his troops to eliminate all the baby boys in Bethlehem two years old and younger. Herod could not take a chance that a threat to his throne might survive and overthrow him one day. He took matters into his own hands and did what he had to do to try and ensure his reign as “king of the Jews.”
The silent nights in Bethlehem soon would turn into a screaming nightmare. But Jesus would be spared as Joseph would be warned in a midnight dream to rise and take Jesus and Mary to Egypt to escape death. Amid our chaos, God still has a plan even if we do not always know the fullness of His intent at the time.
I know some today are facing your own chaos, threats to your health, finances, jobs…Here is what God encourages through Job 4000 years ago…. Job 42:2
I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted (stopped). (ESV)
It’s interesting that the place God leads the Holy family is back to the place God leads His people out ofduring the Exodus when death came knocking at the doors of all who lived in that land.
Like this little family God may not lead you the way you think He should lead you, but I guarantee you if you trust Him in your chaos he will get you through it, out of it, over it if you will choose to trust Him. You see, He is the king of everything. He came to destroy the work of the enemy in the world and in your life….he wants to be King of your life and all that is in your hands
Jesus was taken to a place where deliverance had taken place over a thousand years earlier so that he might become the deliverer. Jesus will carry that call to both Jew and Gentile…He will deliver you from chaos, pain, rejection, fear, weight, burden…because he gave himself as a gift to all mankind….think about this…
Eventually Jesus will come face to face with the representative of the world’s greatest king – Pilate, Caesar’s subordinate. Pilate will have rather different gifts to give him, though he, too, is warned by a dream not to do anything to him (Matthew 27:19). His soldiers are the first Gentiles since the Magi to call Jesus ‘king of the Jews’ (Matthew 27:29), but the crown they give him is made of thorns, and his throne is a cross. At the moment, instead of a bright star, there will be an unearthly darkness (Matthew 27:45), out of which we shall hear a single Gentile voice: yes, he really was God’s son (Matthew 27:54). Jesus presented himself, the anointed one as a gift to each of us so we might live free
This king, anointed one, is still worthy of gifts….today choose to surrender you dreams, your gifts, your talents, your life completely to Him….this king does not hold onto things he told his disciples no one could out give Him and He promises to give back more than you give out to also promises, peace joy, love….peace that goes beyond our understanding….a joy so great we don’t have the words…and a love that never fails….acknowledge the King with all you are and you have and allow Him to bless you!