By Zachary Grimm
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 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 2:1-2
The birth of Jesus is an event that has altered all of history. Many poems and songs have been written to commemorate this blessed occasion. Countless sermons have been preached about this wonderful episode. Yet, this story is as fresh as this morning’s frost. So let us take one more look at this grand story, and see the special Light that God sent to the world that night.
Wise Men from the East
Verse one of our text mentions certain “wise men from the east”. We don’t know who these men are. Many believe these men come from the land of India; some say they come from China; others contend that these men are from ancient Assyria. Whatever the case may be, we know that these men came from the east, and we believe they traveled a very long distance to come to Emmanuel’s land.
The wise men asked, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” They did not ask, “Where is he that is born ‘prince’ of the Jews?” They didn’t ask, “Where is he that is born ‘president’ of the Jews?” They emphatically asked the ultimate question of all time, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” The wise men knew that Jesus was no ordinary baby.
They declare their certainty by saying, “For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” These men, no doubt, were very well acquainted with the stars. However, when this special star appeared, they knew there was something different about it. God revealed to them that this was His star. The Bible does not reveal how long the journey took, but they arrived in Jerusalem as soon as they could to seek out the King of kings and give Him the worship He rightfully deserves.
We read of Herod’s response to this proclamation in verse three: “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” We could ask the question, “Why would Herod be troubled at some foreigners declaring a little baby to be the King of the Jews?” The answer would inevitably be that Herod—and not Jesus—was the king of the Jews—or so he thought. Herod was a man who did not like any opposition, and he was quick to make sure that there were no contenders for his throne, as we will see later.
The phrase, “and all Jerusalem with him”, is very interesting. Some say the people were afraid of Herod, and Herod was afraid of Jesus. Whatever the reason, we know that the birth of our Saviour caused quite a stir in the city of Jerusalem. However, Jesus was not born in Jerusalem, the capitol, but in a small village a few miles away.
“And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet, 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.” — Verses 4-6
This is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Micah the prophet:
“But thou, Beth-lehem 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 old, from everlasting.” — Micah 5:2
Bethlehem, the house of bread. Could it simply be mere chance that Jesus, the Bread of life, was born in this little town of Bethlehem?
After Herod heard where Jesus was to be born, he immediately sent the wise men to Bethlehem to search for baby Jesus.
“Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.” — Matthew 2:7-8
Why would Herod want to worship Jesus? The truth is that he didn’t; all he wanted was for Jesus to be killed. (See verses 16-18.) Providentially, the wise men headed home another way. We must remember that everything in this story happened just as God planned it.
Guided by a Star
“When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” — Verses 9-10
This was not an ordinary star; this was not a comet; this was not a cluster of planets; this was a very special star, which had a very special purpose, and hasn’t been seen by mankind since that wonderful night. God sent a star from the heavens to declare the birth of the Star of Heaven.
The Bible says that the star “came and stood over where the young child was”, leading the wise men to the very house where Jesus was born. When people are willing to follow God’s direction, God is willing to lead them.
Can you hear the excitement in the voices of these men as they catch another glimpse of this wonder-filled light? Can you not see their smiling faces as the star leads them through the streets of Bethlehem? They have traveled many miles and traversed many difficulties to get here, and now the time has finally arrived: they are going to see the King!
The Presence of the King
“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.” — Verse 11
Verse ten tells us that when the wise men saw the star, “they rejoiced with exceeding great joy”, but when they saw the newborn King, they “fell down, and worshipped him”. They did not worship Mary; they did not worship Joseph, or the animals, or the ground, or anything else; they worshipped Him. They worshipped the King of kings and Lord of lords. They worshipped Him whose name is “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
Our worship belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ and Him alone. Revelation 4:11 says, “Thou art worthy, O lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” If you decide not to worship Christ now, one day, you will bow your knee, and give Him the glory He deserves. (See Philippians 2:9-11.)
“And when they had opened their treasures…” Do you see this beautiful picture? The wisest men in the world have come to honor, glorify, and worship the King of kings. They presented their “treasures”. The word “treasures” is translated from the Greek word thesauros which means “a deposit, i.e. wealth.” These men clearly showed the value of our Saviour by presenting their treasures unto Him.
Gold, frankincense, and myrrh—three very precious and costly riches. Yet the wise men didn’t hesitate to offer it to Jesus. In fact, it seems that this was their very intention. Since the word “treasures” comes from the word meaning a deposit, could it be that these men, after hearing prophecies of the coming Messiah, saved up these valuable resources for this precise meeting?
Think of all the years they waited to meet the King of Glory. Think of the manifold difficulties they traversed to arrive at this particular time. Imagine their joy when they entered into the presence of the King. No one else is worthy of this level of devotion.
The Reason for the Season
Jesus was not born to rule and reign; that’s for a future date. Jesus was born to be the sinless sacrifice for all mankind. Please read carefully the following verses:
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” — 1 John 4:9-10
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” — Romans 5:6-9
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” — 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” — Romans 10:9-13
What about you, friend? What do you think about Christ? Is He not worthy of your adoration and praise? Will you trust Christ as your personal Saviour, or turn away in your selfishness?
If God believed it was worth sending His Son to earth to die in your stead and pay your sin debt, don’t you think it is worth presenting your life to Him, giving Him all the glory and honor He deserves? If you simply want salvation to stay out of Hell, then you have the wrong motive. Jesus wants to save you for His glory. “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:12)
Perhaps you would really like to be saved. Maybe you realize that Jesus is worthy of your salvation, and you would like to give your life to Him. Perhaps you are asking the question, “What must I do to be saved?”
Understand that you are a sinner by birth and by choice, and that your sin separates you from God. Realize that Jesus shed His blood on the cross, was buried, and three days later arose from the grave that you might be saved. Personally turn from your sin and turn to God, placing your complete trust in what Christ has done for you, and He will save you. You will be birthed into the family of God.
Accept the Lord Jesus as your Saviour today. He is worthy of all our praise and adoration, for He is the real Star of Bethlehem.
On a far away night, in a small, country town,
The Lord sent a light—a star to shine down.
This star was unique, unlike any before;
Its cause was distinct and direct from the Lord.
Magi from a distance had seen its great light;
They joyed each instance at this wonderful sight.
They journeyed afar, over desert and hill;
That radiant star lead them through every thrill.
What danger, distress, terror and dismay!
In their helplessness, they followed that ray.
Through peril and fright, and precarious places,
The star shined bright on their smiling faces.
As they walked the lanes of that village so slight,
The star did make plain His dwelling that night.
They entered the abode, amazed beyond measure,
Their gifts to unload, which unveiled their treasure.
They bowed at His feet, showing sweet adoration;
Such honor is meet for the King of Salvation!
They traveled this far by a star shining bright,
To find that the Star was the Saviour, the Light!