We are all familiar with the birth of Jesus that we often refer to as the “Christmas Story.” There had been about four hundred years without a new word from God or His prophets. Suddenly, we learn the angels begin to tell of the birth of Jesus that would soon be. When Jesus was born, the angels declared the birth of the “Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11) to the shepherds who went to see Him. However, have you thought about what happened shortly after Jesus’ birth?
Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem, Jesus had been born, and the shepherds had visited. “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem” (Matthew 2:1). Notice the question these wise men asked, “Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2). They went to the obvious place to find a newborn king: the palace (the king’s house) in the capital city, Jerusalem. Remember though, that the reigning king, Herod, was an illegitimate king appointed by the Roman government to rule over the Jewish people. Read how he responded to this news. “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Matthew 2:3). To understand this verse better, you have to know a little about King Herod. He built many great buildings, but he was also known for his great jealousy and cruelty. He had his own wife and two sons put to death. That helps us better understand why when it was declared that a new king had been born, “he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” No one at the palace knew of a newborn king – but Herod wanted to find out. “4. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6. And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel” (Matthew 2:4-6). The religious leaders had found the answer in God’s Word (in Micah 5:2). Notice that the chief priests and scribes were the ones who knew the answer – yet we do not read that any of them even went to look for this Governor, who would rule God’s people.
When Herod called in the wise man to give them the answer, he sent them to search and find the child. Herod told these wise men to return and tell him where this new king was found so that he too, could go and worship him (see Matthew 2:7-8). When the wise men left, the star went before them until it stood over where the young child was. “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy” (Matthew 2:10). But more than that: “11. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way” (Matthew 2:11-12). They worshiped the child and presented Him with gifts. The Wise Men also heeded the warning from God and did not return to King Herod to tell him where the new king had been born.
God also warned Joseph of the pending danger (see Matthew 2:13-15a). Joseph obeyed God, and Jesus’ life was spared. And remember wicked King Herod? When he finally figured out that the wise men were not returning, he was angry. He had all the children two years old and under killed (see Matthew 2:16). However, what Herod did not know was that God had already moved Jesus to a safer place, protecting Him from wicked King Herod.
Remember what Isaiah wrote hundreds of years earlier. “1. Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. 2. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. 3. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. 6. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD” (Isaiah 60:1-3, 6). Remember that there were about four hundred years of silence from God before Jesus was born (“darkness shall cover the earth”). Then angels appeared declaring Jesus, the Savior of the world, was coming (“his glory shall be seen upon thee”). Remember also that Jesus is the “Light of the world” (see John 8:12). Wise men (“Gentiles”) from the east brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (“they shall bring gold and incense”). It all happened just as God declared it would.
Have you recognized Jesus, the Saviour, which is Christ the Lord?