We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.
A mysterious group in the nativity scene are the wise men. These were astronomers who came from the east, probably from Persia. They came probably several years after Christ’s birth because by the time they arrived, Jesus and Mary and Joseph were in a home.
We find their story in Matthew 2:1-2: “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.’” How did astronomers in Persia know about the Jewish Messiah? I think the answer is that seven hundred years earlier, that region had been introduced to the idea of a Messiah by Daniel. Daniel was taken to Babylon in captivity, and through his teaching he influenced the magi in the king’s court. Through Daniel’s influence, the wise men knew a Messiah would come, not just for the Jews but for the entire world. So the magi followed the star, searching for the Messiah.
The wise men remind us that God directs those who sincerely search for Him. Contrast the magi’s response to King Herod’s response when he heard the Messiah had come. Matthew 2:3 says when Herod heard about this new king, “he was troubled.” We know from history that Herod suffered from paranoia. When his sons allegedly cooked up an assassination plot against their father, he executed them. Herod didn’t want to give up his rule to anyone. That’s why when Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem, he said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him” (v. 8). Herod didn’t want to worship the Messiah; he wanted to kill Him. But notice how God protected His Son: “After hearing the king, [the magi] went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. . . . having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route” (vv. 9-12). Herod died in the darkness without finding Christ, but the magi who came all the way from Persia were led to Jesus.
God gives direction to those who sincerely want to know Him. Think about your own experience of how God led you out of spiritual darkness into the light of His Son. God probably sent a “star” to lead you to Christ. It might have been a godly parent or grandparent; perhaps it was a pastor or a Sunday school teacher. But when God saw a heart that sincerely wanted to know Him, He sent the light into your life to lead you to Christ. When you see the wise men, ask yourself: “Am I sincerely seeking to know God so I may worship Him?” If so, He will give you light. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Stop and Smell the Manger” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.
Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.