Key Verse: “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of 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 when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2
The Magi were not the people we would expect to come and worship Jesus. Their ancestors came from the Median nation 700 years before Jesus was born. According to the ‘The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible’, they favoured the exercise of occult powers within the frame of their religious system. The Magian priesthood dressed in white robes. They carried small bundles of divining rods with which they officiated at sacrifices; these rods also were utilised in divining and soothsaying by arranging them in various patterns on the ground while chanting their incantations.” They were interested in predicting the future via dream interpretation, magic, and other methods, such as astrology, which explains their interest in the star
The Bible also suggests that Arabia was “the land of the East” and Arabians were “the people of the East” (see Genesis 25:6 and Judges 6:3). This further points to the fact that they were probably Gentiles who lived a long way away from where Jesus was born. God makes every effort to reach every person who is far away from Him. Here we see God used the star to reach pagan Gentile magician/astrologers to bring them to Christ. What has God used in your life to bring you closer to Him?
These pagan priests travelled many thousands of miles to come and worship Jesus, yet many of the people who lived in Israel couldn’t be bothered. King Herod for example, only lived a few miles up the road, but he said to the Magi in Matthew 2:8 “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” Even though this was never his true intention.
How often are we like Herod? I believe the challenge Matthew is setting before us is this: Are we willing to seek Jesus and to worship Him? When we want to do something, we put great effort into it, but when it comes to attending church, the prayer meeting or our devotional time, we often don’t show the same passion. The wise men travelled through deserts, bandit country and inclement weather all to worship Jesus, but we often let the most little thing come between us and worship Him.
These men were looking for the King to worship and they expected to find Him. When they lost sight of the star for a few moments, they did not give up and go home. They kept going believing that something special had taken place. When they saw the star again, “they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy” (Matt 2:10). Are you expecting to meet with Jesus as you go to worship Him?