Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Three Wisemen: Response To God's Sign

So let’s stop a minute and think about all the responses Matthew has recorded so far to God’s proclamation that His Son has been born.

The people: Were bothered, vaguely worried, instead of excited and eager for their promised Messiah.

Their ruler was a cruel and capricious king. They didn’t want anything to disturb him because that meant he would, in turn, take it out on them, people would get hurt, there would be upheaval and crackdowns.

Maybe you’re there. You like when the Bible talks about things that already are a part of your life, things that agree with how you view life already. But when you get to a part that doesn’t agree with your views you feel bothered. You feel vaguely worried, sensing this is going to mean upheaval in your life, and it might hurt.

How prepared are you to receive God's guidance and how willing are you to follow it?

Herod: Was insanely suspicious, always worried that someone was going to try and take away his power and wealth.

For all his good qualities as a ruler, this one trait ruined every good thing he did. Instead of him controlling his life, and ruling his realm, this one trait controlled him and made him a tyrant of his realm.

Is there some trait in your personality that is driving everything else, overshadowing your other good qualities because you are not reigning in the excesses of this one trait?
* Maybe it’s your short temper.

* Maybe you are a critical person, always pointing out what’s wrong with other people.

* Maybe it’s your love of shopping, or your love of gossip.

* Maybe it’s your fear of people, or fear of anything new.

* Maybe it’s your self-consciousness.

* Maybe you are overly sensitive and see insults and slights in just about everything people say to you.

Herod believed God’s word, but instead of rejoicing that God had brought the wise men right to his door with this incredible good news, he felt threatened, slighted, insulted by God.

He wanted to destroy the fulfillment of God’s promise. When do I resent God’s word and see it as a threat to my happiness?

Scribes and chief priest: Religion was their work.

These were the seminarians, ivory tower academics, deeply religious traditionalists, who considered themselves as perfectly keeping the law, above reproach, they knew it all and observed all the religious mores. Bethlehem was only five miles away, but they made no move to see if the Messiah had really been born there so they could worship Him.

As the teachers and law keepers, they didn’t feel the need to be taught anymore, the need to grow anymore; they considered themselves above all that, and above the people who still needed that.

You might find yourself there, Bible study has become a little ho-hum, it’s your work, you get it done, that makes you feel good, but it isn’t igniting your heart. You’re looking around at the people you feel still need it, so you’re keeping up with your Bible study for someone else. How closely are you watching for God's guidance in my own life?

Wise men: They were students of ancient and sacred lore. Two hundred years before Christ the entire Old Testament had been translated into Greek, making it available to scholars world wide. They would have had the original writings of the prophet Daniel, who had lived in Chaldea for most of his life.

They would have had some access to at least the books in Hebrew of the Old Testament written up to the time of the great diaspora described at the end of 2nd Kings, since the Jews would have brought their scriptures with them when they went into exile.

They were not Jews, as were the citizens of Jerusalem, and the scribes and chief priests, and Herod. But they believed God and acted on their belief.

They had faith.

Think of all the planning, the cost, the time and the risk that went into this trip. Their plan was to follow this star, for however long it would take, wherever it would take them. They were absolutely committed to seeking God, based on what God had revealed to them, and God brought them to the Messiah.

If this post got you to thinking, please leave a comment and join the conversation


  1. I didn't expect reading about the three magi to launch me into an extended bout of self-examination, but that's precisely what happened when I read this essay. Thank you so much for being an exhorter and an encourager.

  2. It began as soul searching for me, thinking about the magi, and their godly response in the middle of Jerusalem, the holiest city on earth yet filled with people -- supposedly God's people, right? -- who had many responses, but none of them godly.

    Made me think about my own response to God sometimes.

    I tried to leave a note on your site, but the software deleted it?

    Grace and peace to you

  3. I'm sorry about the software problem; I don't know what's going on. You're the second person in the last two weeks who has tried to leave a comment and been thwarted. But you're the first whose comment didn't even get emailed to me. Usually, when someone leaves a comment, the software sends me an email and lets me know that a comment was left, even if it somehow doesn't show up. If you'll send me an email (
    with your comment, I'll post it manually. I very much appreciate you reading my little blog.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts