The Weekend Word
The Visit of the Wise Men
- Why are they called wise men? Following the star or getting out of town?
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men, from the east came to Jerusalem,
- Again, Matthew locates Jesus in real time and historical space.
- What years were the “days of Herod? 47 BC / 40BC – 4BC
- What kind of a time gap might there be between the birth and arrival?
- It seems to me that there are several months at least that have gone by.
- What does v. 11 say? – “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother”
- So he wasn’t still in the manger and he is called a ‘child’ not a babe.’
- From the East – What is east of Jerusalem?
- If they were people from Babylon, they may have been influenced by Daniel during the captivity to watch the prophets and prophecies.
- When Daniel was told to shut up the prophecies, they were for a later date – perhaps he told people, “I don’t know what, but there is something in here – keep your eyes open.” What were they looking for? Jeremiah 23:5-6
- So who were these guys?
- We have most of our ideas about this fascinating group from the people who draw Christmas cards rather than theologians. The Gospel according to Hallmark.
- Should we use outside texts & tradition or Hallmark?
- The only thing we know about these wise men is some historical tradition and what is said in Matthew. “There came wise men from the East.”
- What is the real story? – there must be more to it to cause the reaction we see in Verse 3.
2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
- Funny statement, calling for “King of the Jews” Where did they pick up that concept? Why would they be looking for anything in Israel?
- How do we picture that the rode into town? Slowly, not to attract attention and just pull up to King Herod’s Palace?
- No! They probably were galloping across the countryside, stopping at every village gas station shouting out –
- “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
- God is working here to point to Jesus and the locals have no clue?
- Matthew is using these king makers to show that Jesus is the real king.
- The whole OT is for the sake of pointing people to Jesus and nothing else.
- In the story of redemption to come, God put all these little landmarks – sign (like a highway directional sign) showing the way. When you are on the 5 and you see the sign that says El Toro Rd – well the sign is not El Toro Rd – but it points you to El Toro Rd.
- How much did these guys know? They knew enough that when the star appeared … they went
- We should do likewise.
- And so they came to Jerusalem. A group of official Persian king makers looking for a new king.
- And that is really what Matthew wants you to see, Jesus Christ is King, and these king makers whose business it was to recognize kings knew it. And in a real sense these people were the first fruits of the Gentiles to come to Christ. Imagine that – Gentiles were the first Christians
- Interesting, by the way, the Jewish world didn’t seem to recognize what was going on at all, and that fits the Scripture because it says, “He came unto his own and his own (what?) received him not.” John 1:11
- Numbers 24:17 = “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth.
- What is the star?
3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;
- I think we picture that the Wise men came directly to Herod, but I don’t think so – they may have been zig zagging across the countryside looking and asking.
- And then word on the street gets to Herod and he is troubled = agitated
- Perhaps by the time they arrive he has heard this a dozen times and this adds to his trouble / agitation.
- Can you imagine when this entourage comes to town the commotion it causes? Especially with the question / message they are bringing.
- I doubt this was like a couple of guys tossing their suitcases in the trunk of their Oldsmobile and driving from Bagdad to Jerusalem.
- Herod is troubled – Herod is agitated
- Herod was a very insecure king – it went back to how he obtained his position and how he was always afraid of losing it.
- He was the current king, and these guys arrive in town and say, where is the new King of the Jews? And his first reaction is huh!? What new King?
- If we don’t know by now, we will find out – When Herod ain’t happy – ain’t nobody gonna be happy.
- A short listing of who Herod killed to avoid just a family takeover
- His wife – 3 of his son’s and a couple of his brothers.
- So when he hears “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? He is thinking coup.
What will be Herod’s reaction to all of this? Will he welcome these emissaries from the east? Next week