Matthew 2:1-2, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’”
Most scholars believe these magi (or wise men) were astrologers or astronomers; men who studied the stars and planets. The Bible says they came from the east following a star that led them first to Jerusalem. I have often thought about their question to King Herod: “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?” First of all, how did they know the star meant a King was born? Second, how did they know it meant a King of the Jews? I then started thinking about where they came from. The Bible says they came from the east; most believe they were from somewhere in Persia or Arabia. If this is true, how would they know anything about the King of the Jews? Let’s look at some Jewish history.
Back when Israel was led by Kings, they continually disobeyed God, ultimately leading to Israel being conquered. Its temple was dismantled. It’s people scattered. It’s beliefs shattered. One King in particular, Nebuchadnezzar, took many young Israelites and forced them to learn the ways of the Babylonians. In the Old Testament book of Daniel we’re told of 4 men that were taken to Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel. While these men were trained in the King’s court and taught the ways of the Babylonians, the Bible tells us they remained faithful to God and His commands. Because of this, they were blessed by God and rose in power within the King’s court. King Nebuchadnezzar even made Daniel the head of all his wise men. An outsider.
In Daniel’s high position, it is probable his beliefs were known to others. As a result, some may have even come to believe in “Daniel’s God”. Maybe becoming acquainted with the Jewish writings, which prophesied of a savior, a King. This message could have then been passed down over the centuries, causing the wise men who held on to these teachings (at the time of Christ’s prophesied coming) to wait and look for a sign. A sign they ended up seeing in the form of a star. A signal that the prophecies spoken about so long ago were finally becoming a reality.
They then followed the star in search of the promised King. The One they had been waiting for. With them they brought gifts fit for a King: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. After they presented their gifts, they left and went back to their home. We never hear from them again, at least in the Bible that is.
The Magi came with the intent of worshipping the King of the Jews. Is Jesus your king or is he just an afterthought amidst the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season? Too often we think of Jesus as a one-and-done event. Going about our daily lives unchanged by this miracle. May we always and forever intentionally keep Jesus as the King of our lives; making Him known to the world as Daniel and his friends did.