– Matthew 2:7-15 KJV
Our lesson “Call to Worship” tells us of the birth of Christ and describes the strange appearance of wealthy and mysterious Gentiles to honor the baby Jesus. Our lesson gives us a summary of the unique details from Luke and Matthew which describe the story of Jesus’ birth. Luke offers a detailed description of events leading up to the night of Jesus’ birth, the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the Roman tax census, the fact that the newborn child laid in a manger and the visit of the shepherds (Luke 2:1-20). Matthew skips the actual birth and describes the visit of the wise men. The two accounts give us an awareness of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus and two perspectives of this important world changing event.Luke’s focus on the manger and the shepherds anticipates Jesus’s later emphasis on the poor and the outcast. (Luke 6:20-21). Matthew’s story of the wise men shows how Christ’s life and death would reach far beyond the borders of Israel to bring salvation to many races and nationalities. Together these two Gospels highlight the key features of Christ’s ministry to bring salvation to all. (John 3:16-18).
Our scripture tells us, Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the days of Herod the King. One day, wise men came from the east to Jerusalem asking “where is the King of the Jews for we have seen his star.” The wise men were given a private meeting with Herod and he diligently questioned them about the star and time it appeared. Herod directed the wise men toBethlehem to search for the child and told them to send him word when they found the child so that he could go and worship the child also. So, the wise men departed, and the star that they had seen in the east went before them and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding joy. They went into the house and saw the young child with Mary his mother and fell down and worshipped him. They presented to him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The wise men were warned in a dream not to return toHerod and so they departed to their country another way. When the wise men departed, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take the young child and his mother and flee to Egypt until the angel gave him word, because Herod was seeking to kill the child.Joseph took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and was there until the death of Herod, that the prophesy might be fulfilled saying “Out of Egypt have I called my son”.
In this story we see the wise men from the east came to worship Jesus. Although the Law ofMoses forbid the occult practices which the wise men were experts, God still communicated with these astrologers in terms they could understand and they were aware of the Scriptures that spoke of the coming King. We are reminded of other scripture where God speaks in forbidden practice as when God chose to speak to King Saul in such a setting (1 Samuel 28).We are reminded that, His ways are not our ways. The wise men came to worship a King and pay their respects as was customary for a royal birth. They went first went to Jerusalem for thi s royal event because it was the political and religious center of Judea. Herod’s religious experts advised him that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem about six miles south ofJerusalem. Herod was suspicious of the wise men and thought they were trying to instigate an uprising. The wise men were interpreting the situation in religious terms and were oblivious toHerod’s true motives since Herod showed deceit in saying he wanted to worship the child also.Based on his own experts, Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem to locate his political rival.Herod was probably made aware of Micah 5 which predicted the Messiah would be born inBethlehem (house of bread). The star reappearing functioned as a guide to the wise men to find the young child.
Matthew’s account foreshadows a deep tragedy of Christ’s ministry: those who should have been most prepared to accept Him did not (John 1:11). Instead, pagan astrologers welcomedHim with worship and expensive gifts. Matthew’s account thus demonstrates the need to remain open to the unexpected. It encourages us to watch for God in action, even when (or especially when) He acts through people we might not anticipate. We all need eyes to see and ears to hear.
Thought to remember: Those who faithfully seek Jesus finds Him
Deaconess Irish Curry