“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.”
We often refer to Luke 2:1-20 as “The Christmas Story.” It is important to read these verses, for there are many important things recorded in this passage.
- Joseph and Mary went from Nazareth to the city of David, Bethlehem (because he was of the lineage of David)
- Mary brought forth her firstborn son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger.
- Shepherds were watching their flocks by night where an angel of the Lord appeared to them, bringing good tidings (good tidings means “bringing good news; to proclaim, evangelize, preach the gospel”).
- A Saviour, Christ the Lord was born (Saviour means “the One who saves His people from the guilt and power of sin, from eternal death and punishment as the consequence of sin, and gives them eternal life in Heaven”).
- The shepherds immediately went to see the baby born in Bethlehem, recognizing that God had made these things known to them.
- After the shepherds saw Jesus, they made it known abroad (they told everyone).
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 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, “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” (Matthew 2:4-5). We remember that the prophet, Micah, had declared this. “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). Notice that the chief priests and scribes knew the answer – yet we read they did not even go and look for the one “to be ruler in Israel.” When Herod called the wise men to give them the answer, he sent them to search and find the child. Herod told them to return, informing him where this new king was found so 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).
More importantly, see what they did. “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). The Wise Men heeded the warning from God. They did not return to King Herod to tell him where the new king had been born. God also warned Joseph of the pending danger. Joseph obeyed God, and Jesus’ life was spared. Remember wicked King Herod, “… was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under …” (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.
Read what Isaiah had written 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 … 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 (“darkness shall cover the earth”), and then angels appeared declaring Jesus, the Saviour of the world, was coming (“his glory shall be seen upon thee”). 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.
As we remember the “Christmas Story”, recognize that it was much more than just another Bible story. These events were just the beginning of the fulfillment God promised. He promised to send One to take away the separation caused by sin. We remembered that first step: the birth of Jesus, God’s Son, born the Saviour of the world. God’s time of silence had ended, and He was active in the lives of those willing to hear and obey His Word. God revealed the birth of His Son to the Jews and Gentiles. We saw that some went and saw the king (the shepherds and wise men), and some stayed right where they were (King Herod, the chief priests and scribes). The same happens today: some people seek and meet Jesus, becoming a Christian, and some hear about Jesus and that is it – they never meet Him.
Have you only heard of Jesus?
Have you taken the time to seek him, recognizing Him as the Saviour, as the Wise Men did?