This chapter opens with the arrival of Eastern wise men at the city of Jerusalem, in search of the newborn King of the Jews. In their homeland, they had seen a miraculous star; and they rightly interpreted this star to be the herald of the Messiah’s birth. When they arrived at Jerusalem, they went straight to the place where it seemed likely that a king should be born – namely, the palace of King Herod. But the announcement of a king’s birth was news to Herod and all the rest of the Jews also. After a search of the Old Testament Scriptures, the chief priests and scribes informed Herod that the prophet Micah had prophesied that the Kingly Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. To that place, therefore, the wise men went – after being craftily instructed by Herod to return and inform him of the whereabouts of his infant-rival. And when they found Him, they offered Him costly gifts – gold, which represented the payment of tribute to Him Who is King indeed; frankincense, which stood as an emblem of the worship of God with the smoke of incense; and myrrh, which was prophetic of Christ’s death, since myrrh was used to embalm the dead.
The conduct of the wise men in this chapter is a splendid example of spiritual diligence. What trouble it must have cost them to travel from their homes in the East to the village where Jesus was born! How many weary miles they must have journeyed! The time that such a journey would take must have been great. The dangers to be encountered were neither few nor small. But none of these things stopped them. They had set their hearts on seeing Him “that was born King of the Jews,” and they never rested until they saw Him. They prove to us the truth of the old saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” It would be good for all professing Christians if they were more ready to follow the wise men’s example. What diligence do we show about following Jesus?
The wise men’s conduct is also a striking example of faith. They believed in Christ when they saw Him as a little infant on Mary’s knee, and they worshiped Him as the King of kings. This was the crowning point of their faith! They saw no miracles to convince them, they heard no teaching to persuade them, and they beheld no signs of Divinity and greatness to overawe them. They saw nothing but a new-born infant – helpless and weak, and needing a mother’s care like any one of ourselves. And yet when they saw that infant, they believed that they were laying their eyes upon the Divine Savior of the world. This is a faith that deserves to be placed side-by-side with that of the repentant thief on the cross. He saw a Man Who was dying the death of a criminal, and yet he prayed to Him and called Him Lord. Likewise, these wise men saw a newborn baby on the lap of a poor peasant girl, and yet they worshiped Him and confessed that He was truly the Christ. Blessed indeed are those persons who believe in this fashion! This is the kind of faith that God delights to honor. Let us walk in the steps of their faith! Let us not be ashamed to believe in Jesus and confess Him, even though all around us remain careless and unbelieving. After all, do we not have a thousand-fold more evidence than the wise men had, in order to make us believe that Jesus is the Messiah? Beyond a doubt, we do!
In the latter portion of this chapter (verses 16-23), we see how true it is that the rulers of this world are seldom friendly to the cause of God. The Lord Jesus comes down from heaven to save sinners, and immediately we are told that Herod the king “seeks to destroy him.” When he realized that the wise men were never going to return to him and share the exact location of the infant-King, this brutal tyrant sent his soldiers to the region of Bethlehem and ordered the merciless slaughter of every young child under the age of 2. Let us observe how the Lord Jesus was “a man of sorrows,” even from His infancy. Trouble awaited Him as soon as He entered the world. His mother and Joseph were obliged to take Him away by night and “flee into Egypt.” And this was only a sampling of all His experience upon earth. The waves of humiliation began to beat over Him, even when He was a little baby. But this means that He is just the Savior that the suffering and sorrowful need! He knows well what we mean when we pray to Him about our troubles. He can sympathize with us when we cry to Him under cruel persecution. Let us keep nothing back from Him! Let us make Him our bosom Friend and pour out our hearts before Him, for He also has had great experience of affliction.
The time came for the murderer of helpless infants to die himself. And when Joseph and Mary heard the news of his death from the Lord’s angel, they returned at once to their own land in safety. True Christians should never be greatly moved by the persecution of their enemies. They may do their utmost to cast the cause of Christ down to the ground. But the truth rises again from the earth, and still lives!
In the quiet village of Nazareth, the Lord Jesus grew up from infancy to childhood to youth to manhood. We know little of the manner in which those 30 years were spent, but we are expressly told that He was “subject to Mary and Joseph.” We only know that with the exception of the last three years of His time on earth, the life of the Savior of humanity was spent among the poor and unknown persons of this world, in quiet obscurity. Truly this was humility!
Lord God Almighty, we beseech You to put down all the tyrants of this world who imagine that they can stop the growth and progress of Your Kingdom! Amen.
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