2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2 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.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “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.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
By divine providence and through one single event, lowly shepherds, The Middle Eastern nobility, Jewish King Herod and Jewish Religious leaders came to hear about the birth of the messiah Jesus. The story of Christmas through lowly manger and simple shepherds glorifies the humility of the Messiah. Through wise men who came to worship Him, it glorifies the nobility of Jesus. Through the jealousy of king Herod, it testifies the rulership of Jesus. Through jealousy of Jewish religious leaders, it promotes Jesus' spiritual leadership over His people. (Matthew 2:1-12)
By divine providence and through one single event, lowly shepherds, The Middle Eastern nobility, Jewish King Herod and Jewish Religious leaders came to hear about the birth of the Messiah Jesus. The story of Christmas through lowly manger and simple shepherds glorifies the humility of the Messiah. Through wise men who came to worship Him, it glorifies the nobility of Jesus. Through the jealousy of king Herod, it testifies the rulership of Jesus. Through jealousy of Jewish religious leaders, it promotes Jesus' spiritual leadership over His people.
1. The World Was to Hear About the Birth of the Messiah Jesus
The angels reached out to lowly shepherds and in doing so they made them the heralds of Jesus' birth to the people who were on the fringes of society; the poor, rejected and oppressed. However, through the brightness of a star which appeared above the Middle Eastern sky God reached out to the nobility of the East and through them He was reaching to the World to tell them about the birth of the Messiah Jesus. Both Jesus' humility as well as His nobility was to be announced to the world. So, it was not only Jews but the whole world was to hear about Jesus. This was God's plan and He executed it masterfully. The world needed to hear, ‘Your Saviour was born in Bethlehem’. The nobility of earth was to hear about the nobility of heaven who came to dwell among us. The wise men of the East comprehended the enormity of the news and gladly came to worship Jesus at Bethlehem.
2. The King Herod and Spiritual Leaders of Jews Were to Hear About the King Who Was Born
The nobility of the world came to notify Jewish nobility and religious leaders of the Messiah's birth and at the same time they came to enquire from them about the place where he might have been born so that they could go and worship Him. The king Herod and religious leaders were taken by surprise. The Jewish leaders did know where the Messiah was expected to be born and they directly quoted it to the wisemen:
“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.” (Micah 5:2)
When spiritual leaders were asked by wise men about the place of Messiah's birth, they were forced to quote the only place in the Torah which spoke of it. They suddenly found themselves in a very unusual situation. It must have felt awkward to stand in front of the wise men of the East who were heralding the most cherished message for the Jews and at the same time they were to inform them of the place of His birth. What we know is that the king Herod took the message very seriously. In fact, jealously instantly took over and soon he was to go on a killing spree of all Jewish babies from Bethlehem.
Also, in the process of quoting the text from Micah 5:2, the religious leaders were forced to quote the part which says: "... from you (Bethlehem in Judah) shall come forth for me one who is to be RULER in Israel, whose coming forth is from the ancient of days." This was quite a unique moment. Can you imagine the nobility of the East standing before the religious leaders of Israel and the king of Israel and they all speak about the ultimate king, 'the ruler.' God in heaven must have smiled watching the leaders of His people and wisemen of the earth, all being faced with the news of the birth of heaven's majesty. In fact, God was not just the passive observer, but very active, behind the scene arranger of events, bringing together this unique group of leaders together and sharing the most important news with them.
But the real question is, how would the Jewish leaders react to this news? Sadly, the negative reaction of both Herod and spiritual leaders, characterised by their jealousy, would become the whole mark of their consistent negative attitude towards Jesus during His entire life's ministry. Jewish leadership eventually rejected Jesus as their messiah and the Saviour. The rejection of the Jews and the acceptance of the gentiles also became a prophetic watershed whereby the news about Him would go throughout the world and many gentiles would accept Him while His own would reject Him.
So Close Yet So Far!!!
How ironic! Jewish leaders were physically and theologically close to the good news, yet so far from Jesus. On the other hand, wise men from the East were geographically far, theologically ignorant yet very close to Him. This confirms that the right theology without the living experience with God is not enough. However, the right theology (doctrine) and heart need go together. God wanted to make sure that wise men get the doctrine right. They needed to be taught and informed by His people. Now, when the wise men heard of Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah and when they saw him in Bethlehem, both their knowledge and their experience came together. Their worship was offered in truth which deepened love that already existed and brought great joy to them