“Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:
‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’ ”
Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.”
Matthew 2:1-12 NLT
We learn more important facts in today’s reading surrounding the birth of Jesus:
- Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem for a census from their hometown of Nazareth. (Details in Luke 2:1-6)
- Herod was the reigning king and he was a jealous and ruthless tyrant. He was so envious of his position as king, he killed several of his own children to prevent their future rule, and his intention was to also kill Jesus.
- When we learned that King Herod was worried about the birth of the coming Messiah, we also see these words: “as was everyone in Jerusalem.” The birth of Jesus caused an eruption of emotions from Jewish leaders and the Jewish people too. For those who were dedicated to God His birth was a comfort and a reason for hope. For those who were more focused on themselves and their position in the community, they became fearful and disturbed. Even today Jesus elicits these same high and low emotions from people.
- The Magi were following a star, but what they were really following were the recorded words of the prophets Jeremiah and Micah who predicted the coming Messiah. You can read those words in Jeremiah 23:5-6 and Micah 5:2-5 (in the Old Testament). These recorded words are some of the predictions that point to Jesus as the coming Messiah.
- The Magi left the king and followed the star to Jesus. There they presented Him with gifts and treated this humble family like royalty, completely ignoring the obvious that Joseph and Mary were poor and the baby was born and residing (at that time) in a manger with livestock.
- The Magi’s obedient action to worship Jesus (rightfully!) as King and bring gifts fitting for a king, resulted in a special blessing; a dream of protection, warning them to go a different direction and not back to King Herod.
Our take away from today’s reading:
- God can and will speak to us in our dreams. This does not include nonsensical dreams or ones that attempt to entice us to commit illegal, immoral, or unjust behavior. Nor is it festering dreams about our worries. What we see is God using dreams to guide and/or comfort us, as He did with Joseph and the Magi.
- Making the decision to follow Jesus does not give us automatic protection from harm, or the ability to get everything we ever wanted. Jesus is not our personal magic genie to answer every whim or request we have (thank goodness!). He is, however, our Holy King and He does supply our needs, but not necessarily our wants. God hears our prayers and the prayers of others, but He alone knows what will bring about the best outcome for everyone concerned because He sees all and He knows all. God’s will is perfect; therefore His answer to our prayers is perfect.
- Making the decision to follow Jesus can make us unpopular with those who have chosen a “free for all” lifestyle, and heartbreakingly, that can include persecution from those who don’t believe, including our own non-believing family members. 💔
- Don’t use only what you can see with your eyes to make obedient decisions. Had the Magi considered just the poverty and the manger, they would have missed the blessing of worshipping the Messiah, and God speaking to them in their dreams to avert a dangerous situation. When you pray ask for God to allow you to see everything, not just the obvious.
- God may ask you to gift someone with something that may or may not make sense to you at the time. In fact, you may never know the outcome of your gift. But your obedience to do as you know God has called, will bless you.
The more you know about Jesus and His character, and what is said in the Bible, the easier it becomes to be wise and obedient.
Father God, thank you for the truth and for what we learned in your lesson today. Thank You for leaving us the Bible that is rich with teachings and blessings. Father I ask that You open the eyes of all of our hearts that we may see and follow You according to Your perfect will, and not our own selfish will. We ask this in the name of the Messiah Jesus, who is our King. Amen.