Matthew 2:1-3—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.
Why do you think that King Herod was disturbed when the wise men asked him where Jesus was? It wouldn’t have seemed that way to someone observing from the outside. King Herod told the wise men in verse 8, “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!” What’s so wrong with that? He just wanted to worship the newborn Messiah, the one everyone had been waiting for!
But these men are called wise for a reason. They went on their way and travelled hundreds of miles to see Jesus. When they found Him, the Bible says that “they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Mary and Joseph were poor people, and these gifts would come in handy later on.
“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.” God told them not to go back to King Herod, because He knew that Herod wasn’t planning on worshiping Jesus. Matthew 2:16 says, “Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance.” Herod was threatened by the arrival of Jesus.
Those gifts that the wise men gave to Jesus—the gold, frankincense, and myrrh—weren’t just any gifts. They were very expensive. Jesus’ family had to flee to Egypt to escape Herod, and they may have been able to use those gifts to help them get there.
Because the men who visited Jesus were wise, they listened to what God had told them. Even though it meant defying what their king had told them to do, they decided that the risk was worth taking. Herod wasn’t just a king—they were going against the orders of a man who had executed his own wife and children because he was afraid that they were going to steal his power!
But wisdom moves past intimidation and towards the light of God. There will always be Herods, barriers, in our lives as long as we strive for the wisdom that comes from the Lord.
The plot of Christmas isn’t in a manger. It’s about the mission given to us by and for an all-powerful God, which is advancing Jesus and exposing His light to the entire world. Jesus came to draw us to His light. When we are wise, we listen to what He’s telling us to do. God works in the world in spite of the Enemy, so focus on where He is taking you and walk with Him no matter what.