One of the most interesting parts of the story of Christ’s birth is the visit from the wise men. The Bible doesn’t really say much about them. Just that they were wise men, they came from the East, they were following a star, they were looking for a new born King of the Jews, and they came to worship Him.
From this description we can gather that these men were men of means. They were able to make a trek from the East to Jerusalem. This reference means they were not Jewish, but perhaps Babylonian or Persian. Later we learn they present very expensive and extravagant gifts to Jesus.
They were men with political connections, in that Herod agreed to meet with them. They were educated and sophisticated men of their age. They were also men who had access to Hebrew Scriptures, because they were looking for one ‘born king of the Jews”.
These men were seekers. Because they were looking for a newborn King, they came to the place where they thought they would find Him. They came to the palace. But the palace was empty. No new born king had been born there.
Herod summonsed the chief priests and the scribes, the religious experts and Bible scholars of the day, to find out where the Christ was to be born. They told him Bethlehem. They knew where He was to be born, but they were not anticipating His birth. These religious leaders would not have had to travel far to find this baby, yet they completely missed it. They knew the scriptures that told where He was to be born, yet they didn’t go with the wise men to see this babe.
Herod, of course, was a total hypocrite. There was no question in Herod’s mind that these men were intent of finding this Child so they could worship Him. He acted like he wanted them to find the babe and report back to him so he could go and worship Him also. Herod was more interested in his own position, power, and control. He said one thing but did the opposite
The thing that set the wise men apart was the most important part of the story. They had “come to worship Him.” These men were not just coming to show respect, reverence, or pay homage to an earthly king. These men were coming to worship the promised Messiah.
This detail is not lost with our Gospel writer Matthew. In fact, the word worship found in Matthew 2:2 is the very first time it is used in the New Testament. Scholars agree that Matthew is written with a Jewish audience in mind. These gentile wise men coming from the East to worship the new born Messiah is significant.
Matthew is including this detail of the story to drive home the point that Jesus is worshiper even as an infant. For the Jew, worship is reserved only for God and God alone. Hence these gentile worshipers were drawn to the only One worthy of worship, Jesus Christ.
As we celebrate Christmas, it is so easy to get caught up in all the trappings and festivities of the season and miss the most important detail. We are here to worship Him. In our culture, many will be indifferent about worshiping Jesus. Others will be hypocritical when it comes to worshiping Him. Yet there are still wise men, women, boys and girls, who are seeking God. That God became a baby. Let us be a church that leads people to Him. Let us “come and worship Him.”
I love you and it’s a privilege to be your pastor.