In Matthew 2, we read about the wise men who came to Jerusalem looking for the newborn King of the Jews. These men from the east had seen a new star in the sky and knew that this was a sign that the promised one from God had been born. They went to Jerusalem, as one would assume a king to be born in the capital city.
You probably know the story pretty well. After all, it is told around Christmas time on a regular basis. If you know the story, you know that Herod asked the Jewish priests and scribes around him where the Christ was to be born, and they were easily able to quote for him a Scripture that promised the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Then Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem to find the child.
Matthew 2:9-11 — 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
The wise men left Herod, found the
Christ, and worshipped him. This is a good and right response. When you become aware of the Lord, the right move is to worship.
Sometimes when I think about this passage, I actually find myself thinking about those whose actions are not mentioned. I think about the priests and scribes. To be fair, they may have been generally kept out of the loop and asked only a data question without any context. But I wonder. I wonder if the religious men around Herod knew that the wise men from the east were present. I wonder if they knew that these men were claiming to have seen a star. I wonder if they knew that Herod was sending the wise men to fish out the location of the newborn King.
What I know for sure is that these priests did not go. It seems like they had the data, but they did nothing with it. Knowing Scripture as well as they did, the priests should have recognized that it was time for the Christ to arrive. They should have known that the Messiah would be born around their generation. There was enough information available for these men to know that God had broken into history in a fantastic way.
If my gut guess is right, if the scholars knew about the wise men and the star and the promises of Scripture, then something very sad takes place in this passage. They knew the Christ had come. They knew the star had shone. They knew men were sent to find the baby. And they went back to their books, back to their lives, back to their temple, and did nothing with the news they had heard. They were told enough to know that God had broken into history and sent his promised one, and they were not concerned about it.
Like I said, this is a surmise on my part. It could be that the scholars were only asked the question without getting any info. If so, I cannot blame them for remaining in Jerusalem, as they had no info to go on. But I’m still convicted by the possibility. I’m convicted by the notion that a man could know that God is with us, that Christ is near, and stay home instead of going to worship the Savior.
Surmises aside, do you think you would have gone? If you knew where Jesus was, would you have dropped everything to run to Bethlehem just so you could bow down before the young Jesus? Would you have risked the danger of Herod’s wrath to catch a glimpse of God with us? I hope so.
Now, if you would have taken a significant risk to get where Jesus is, to see him, to bow before him, to worship him, does that show in your life today? After all, Jesus is with us. The Spirit of the Lord is with us. God’s people gather on a weekly basis to worship the same Jesus. God’s people shape our lives differently because of the finished work and presence of Jesus.
Ask yourself, “Does my life look more like the scholars or the wise men?” Do you have a lot of knowledge that leaves you unmoved? Or does what you know from the word of God call you to take note, get up, and act?
Christians, may you and I be a people who are not mere receptacles of knowledge. May the knowledge we have of the word of God and the claims of Christ change our lives. May it lead us to value worship greatly. May it lead us to change, deep and lasting change. May it lead us to not be able to sit still. May we never be able to neglect worshipping the Savior.