Matt. 2:9-10 (Holman) After hearing the king, they went on their way. And there it was – the star they had seen in the east! It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure.
As astrologers, the Magi traveled toward where the star had appeared. As wise men, they came to Jerusalem, for obvious reasons. It was Israel’s capital, and site of the Temple. As extra-wise men, they obeyed Scripture. Once they heard Micah’s ancient prediction, they went a different direction, toward Bethlehem. When they saw the star this time, it was not up among the constellations or on the horizon, but near the ground, thereby defying any astronomical explanation. The star served as God’s chamberlain, His head-usher. It escorted the Magi into the presence of the baby King, in whose face they saw Heaven’s real light. A bewildering fact about the scene our text reveals is, the magi made this last leg of their journey alone. Bethlehem was only five miles from Jerusalem, but no one from the palace, Temple, or crowds went with them. The story of the Magi presents in bold relief four distinct reactions people make to Jesus. One, Herod was hostile. Many are like him. They don’t want their lives interrupted, and are especially opposed to having their sins interfered with. Often a hostile person’s antagonism against Jesus is an argument they have with His Word, the Bible. They don’t like what it has to say about their sinful life. At the bottom of people’s disobedience, some sinful pleasure is often the reason for unbelief. Anyone unwilling to repent of sin cannot find the Savior. Two, the priests and scribes (2:4-6) were indifferent. They handled the Book, but didn’t care about it enough to investigate whether or not one of its chief predictions was being fulfilled. They were too busy being religious to be spiritual. Why would they want to pay heed to Eastern pagan astrologers? The priests and scribes were professional religionists in their own right. What need did they have of Magi? Religious pride is a terrible thing. Be ever humble and teachable. Three, the crowd was overwhelmed, burdened with life. Later the common people came to love Jesus, but at this juncture, not even they went to investigate the child’s birth. Saddled with evil Herod, they had too much other stuff going on. The burden of life under Herod is almost impossible to overstate. How could they think about Bethlehem when Jerusalem was overloading their circuits? They knew others were seeking the Christ child, but decided to search later, in a more convenient season. Sadly, for many who do this, time escapes them, the future recedes farther and farther away. When the end comes, they’re unprepared. Some sufferers are so overwhelmed and burdened with life that they feel they don’t have energy enough to think about God. Some are so hard pressed with troubles that just thinking about Christmas this year is a burden. Many will barely make a Christmas Eve service; it’s an encumbrance. Be careful, dear sufferer, our burdens can cause us to lose sight of the only hope we have to be made better. Four, the Magi worshiped. This was the reason they came in the first place (2:2). The wise men did not come for selfish reasons, for their own sake, but for God’s sake. They deemed the baby King worthy of adoration in His own right. Imitate their worship. It was selfless, a wellspring of unselfish humility swelling up into boundless joy. This attitude of men who knew not the full light of God’s ways shames many of us who live in better times. Which fascinates us more, God’s hands or His face? Is our love unconditional, or are we mercenaries? For Jesus, the Magi left friends and family, endured hardships, searched fervently, asked questions. Nothing else mattered. He had to be found. Only one thing could entirely satisfy. They had to locate, worship, and give to, God’s King. By showing pure unselfish adoration, we pay proper homage to the Light of the world, the Epicenter of the spiritual universe, the One who ultimately matters. The Magi’s search was well worth their effort. They arrived with treasures of earth in their hands, and left with the Treasure of Heaven in their hearts.