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Incarnation Contemplation - The Magi

Posted on December 23, 2015 at 10:30 PM

The Magi, the Wise Men, were key visitors and worshipers early in Jesus’ life.

 

Matthew 2:1 Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, in the province of Judea, at the time when King Herod reigned. Not long after Jesus was born, magi, wise men or seers from the East, made their way from the East to Jerusalem. These wise men made inquiries.

 

According to both the Reformation Study Bible and John MacArthur Study Bible notes these men were NOT kings, but were most likely court advisers who were both astronomers and astrologers. Many scholars believe they may have been from Persia or Babylonia and would have learned of the prophesied Messiah due to Daniel’s captivity.

 

Wise Men: 2 Where is this newborn, who is the King of the Jews? When we were far away in the East we saw His star, and we have followed its glisten and gleam all this way to worship Him.

 

Scientists have tried to explain the phenomenon of the star by saying it was a conjunction of three planets or a supernova. However, the fact that it moved and rested in one place would negate those theories. The Reformation Study Bible notes proposed that it may have been some form of the Shekinah glory of God similar to that which led the Israelites out of Egypt. At any rate, it was a miraculous occurrence. I think the star was the Father’s personal birthday candle in the sky announcing the birth of His son. The wise men stated that their sole purpose in traveling from the East was to find this Baby and worship Him. The wise men were only seekers, not like Simeon and Anna who were devout, expectant Jewish believers. They did not come desiring gifts from Him but bearing gifts for Him. They did not see this baby King as a cosmic Santa Claus or a supernatural slot machine like many people approach God today.

 

Matthew 2:3 King Herod began to hear rumors of the wise men’s quest, and he, and all of his followers in Jerusalem, were worried.

 

King Herod was a controlling despot whose reign was one of fear. If King Herod wasn’t happy, no one was happy. The Baby was threat to his dictatorial control over Israel. This also would mean that his sons would not inherit the kingdom. Instead of being excited about the possibility that the Messiah had arrived, he was jealous, green with envy.

 

Matthew 2:4 So Herod called all of the leading Jewish teachers, the chief priests and head scribes, and he asked them where Hebrew tradition claimed the long-awaited Anointed One would be born.

 

The king of Israel did not have enough interest in the coming Messiah to have studied the scriptures for himself. He had to inquire of others.

 

Matthew 2:5 Scribes and Priests: An ancient Hebrew prophet, Micah, said this:

 

6 But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

are no poor relation—

For from your people will come a Ruler

who will be the shepherd of My people Israel.

 

This prophecy is found in Micah 5:2. Ruler denotes a strong, stern leadership, but shepherd refers to gentle, protective care.

 

Matthew 2:7 Herod called the wise men to him, demanding to know the exact time the special star had appeared to them.

 

The wise men are not even under his rule, but he ordered them to give him information. He was trying to ascertain exactly how old the baby Boy was at this time.

 

8 Then Herod sent them to Bethlehem.

 

Herod: Go to Bethlehem and search high and low for this Savior child; and as soon as you know where He is, report it to me so that I may go and worship Him.

 

Herod had no intention of worshiping the Child. He wanted to eliminate Him as we will see. He feared Jesus would disrupt his family legacy as well as his own rule.

 

Matthew 2:9-10 The wise men left Herod’s chambers and went on their way. The star they had first seen in the East reappeared—a miracle that, of course, overjoyed and enraptured the wise men. The star led them to the house where Jesus lay;

 

The star had disappeared temporarily which is why the Magi had inquired of Herod. Now it re-appeared and led them directly to the house where Jesus was living. The wise men were not just full of joy when the star came back into view: their joy was exponentially overwhelming. It was also a relief that they could now fulfill their hearts’ desire to worship the baby King. Jesus may have been a year to 18 months old by this time (according to the time the wise men told Herod they had first seen the star) and his family had moved to a house in Bethlehem. In other words, the wise men were not as the stable as they are so often depicted in artwork and dramatizations.

 

Matthew 2:11 and as soon as the wise men arrived, they saw Him with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. They unpacked their satchels and gave Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

 

Whenever scripture mentions Jesus and Mary in the same breath, He is always given the position of prominence by being listed first. Joseph must have been at work since he is not mentioned.

 

 

Notes from The Voice Bible:

 

These are exceptionally good gifts, for gold is what is given a king, and Jesus is the King of kings; incense is what you expect to be given a priest, and Jesus is the High Priest of all high priests; myrrh ointment is used to heal, and Jesus is a healer. But myrrh is also used to embalm corpses—and Jesus was born to die.

 

The wise men probably did not fully understand the significance of their gifts or their visit. Scripture foretells that kings would worship The King:

 

Psalm 72:10-11 (VOICE)

 

10 Let the kings of Tarshish and the island kings

shower him with gifts

And the kings of Sheba and Seba bring him presents as well.

11 Let every king on earth bow down before him

and every nation be in his service.

 

Isaiah 60:6 (VOICE)

 

6 Herd after herd of camels will cover the land,

caravans arriving daily from south and southwest: Midian, Ephah,

Even Sheba with gifts of gold and frankincense.

They will announce for all the world to hear, “The Eternal be praised!”

 

 

Matthew 2:12 (ESV) 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

 

The wise men obeyed the Holy Spirit’s message to them in the dream, and did not reveal the Baby’s location to Herod. The Magi were truly wise and were not duped into becoming Herod’s henchmen.

 

Matthew 2:13 After the wise men left, a messenger of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.

 

Messenger of the Lord (to Joseph): Get up, take the child and His mother, and head to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you it is safe to leave. For Herod understands that Jesus threatens him and all he stands for. He is planning to search for the child and kill Him. But you will be safe in Egypt.

 

14 So Joseph got up in the middle of the night; he bundled up Mary and Jesus, and they left for Egypt.

 

Angels were protecting the Holy Child. Astrologers obeyed the dream for his protection. The way that the Father protected Jesus as every turn should give us great confidence and courage that no matter what we face, if we believe and trust in our God, He will protect us with the same tenacity that He protected His Son. Jesus was here on the mission of the redemption of man. In order to fulfill that, He had to live among us as the perfect God/Man which means He had to grow up! God is as eager and intentional for each of us to fulfill our purposes as He was for Jesus to fulfill His. When God calls us, it is not for our ease but for us to serve Him and bring others into His kingdom as well.

 

Matthew 2:15 Joseph, Mary, and Jesus stayed in Egypt until Herod died. This fulfilled yet another prophecy. The prophet Hosea once wrote, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

 

Hosea 11:1 (VOICE)

 

11 Eternal One: When Israel was a child, I loved him;

and out of Egypt I called My son.

 

Matthew 2:16 After a few months had passed, Herod realized he’d been tricked. The wise men were not coming back. Herod, of course, was furious. He simply ordered that all boys who lived in or near Bethlehem and were two years of age and younger be killed. He knew the baby King was this age because of what the wise men told him.

 

Herod, seething with anger, commands that all the boys two and under be slaughtered. He does not care about the innocent lives destroyed. He is intent on killing this One he sees as usurper. His plan was thwarted because Joseph was obedient to the message in the dream.

 

Matthew 2:17 This sad event had long been foretold by the prophet Jeremiah: (Jeremiah 31:15)

 

18 A voice will be heard in Ramah,

weeping and wailing and mourning out loud all day and night.

The voice is Rachel’s, weeping for her children,

her children who have been killed;

she weeps, and she will not be comforted.

 

Imagine the anguish of all those mothers who lost their sons to a murderous annihilator!

 

Matthew 2:19 And after Herod died, a messenger of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt:

 

Messenger of the Lord: 20 You may go home now. Take the child and His mother and go back to the land of Israel, for the people who were trying to take the child’s life are now dead.

 

Just as an angel had warned Joseph to flee to Egypt, one now informs him that it is safe to return to Israel.

 

APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:

 

1. Are we coming to Jesus to give Him adoration and worship, or are we only interested in what He can give us?

 

2. Do we understand all Jesus has done for us and can do in us, or do we see him (like Herod) as the eternal kill-joy? Jesus came to give us abundant life. His rules are for our protection, peace, and fulfillment; not to limit us.

 

3. The wise men brought their best gifts to the Savior, not only the physical gifts, but the most important gift – their worship. Are we bringing Him our best? Are we truly engaged in worshiping our Lord as instructed in Scripture, or are we distracted by the world and the trappings of how society defines Christmas?

 

4. Do we seek the Lord’s wisdom as we travel this earth, trusting Him to guide our steps?

 

5. We need to fully rely on the Lord to fulfill His purposes in and through us.

 

Categories: Magi - Wisemen, Incarnation, Matthew

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