Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘but you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ” Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. (Matthew 2:1-12)
The Wise Men From The East
The story of the wise men coming to see Jesus is always a fascinating story. Very little is told so very little is known. Men have created fanciful stories about these men that have no basis in fact. When they came to see a young child, they were unimportant to the history of man as much as the world took no thought of a child born in Bethlehem. The Holy Spirit has preserved this wonderful tale of a group of men who traveled a far distance to bring gifts to a very important child. There seems to be a providential hand in these affairs. From which country they came we know not. Wherever they came it was a far distance away from the East. These were wise men or Magi that were counselors, advisors and highly educated men of their day. To make such a long journey was perilous and fraught with danger. They had courage to trust in the Lord as they sought out the child. At some point the hand of the Lord directed them to seek out the child. Their only guide was a star in the East they had seen.
Approaching Palestine, they were unsure where to find the child. Jerusalem would be a logical choice. The importance of the child might indicate a place of birth to be of royal significance. Inquiring throughout Jerusalem the wise men caused quite a stir. Herod, hearing of these strangers coming to his town, gathered the Jewish leaders to find out more of this Christ. When men come seeking a man they call a king, the Roman ears of distrust perk up to quell any rebellions among the people. Remarkably the chief priests and scribes knew where the promised Christ was to be born directing Herod to the city of Bethlehem five miles away. He secretly called the wise men and asked them how long they had traveled since first hearing of the birth of this child. This was vital for Herod as he did not plan to visit the child but to kill him. No one was allowed to call themselves a king no matter how small they were.
Believing he created a ruse, the king sent the wise men to the city of Bethlehem to find the child and report to him. Herod was not looking for a baby in a manger but a child. The wise men were not looking for a manger with a baby; they were looking for a child of about two years of age. Arriving in Bethlehem (guided by the star), they found the family of Joseph and Mary in a house. Jesus was a young child. Entering the house with great delight, they presented the family with wonderful gifts and treasures. One can only imagine the surprise of Joseph and Mary to these strange guests from the East. The short time of their visit must have stayed in the minds of the family for as long as they lived. Joseph was not a man of means and these extravagant gifts must have amazed him beyond imagination. Finally, the wise men were to leave. Embracing the child Jesus and bidding goodbyes to Joseph and Mary they returned home. Warned in a dream not to return to Herod they escaped back into the pages of obscurity.
As these men traveled back home their hearts must have burned within them. They had traveled a great distance to see a child. What a joy their memories would hold for them. The talks around the campfire as they traveled home must have been rich. It may have been they learned later what happened to that quiet little town of Bethlehem as Herod sent his soldiers to slaughter every male child under two years of age. Did they know that Jesus had escaped? Could they have known their providential gifts would help the family flee to Egypt and live in exile until the death of Herod? The hand of God had brought them a great distance. They returned home to tell a great story. Their journey was not in vain as some forty years later some strange men came to their homes telling the story of a risen Christ. Could it be the same child? Of course it was. The star that guided them to the baby Jesus had changed the world for these men. Now that is a great story.