With our celebration of the birth of our Savior on December 25th, I am reminded this Christmas Eve of the story of the visit of the Magi. Notice how Matthew describes the details,
“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, 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.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “ ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matt. 2:1-11)
This amazing story describes those who are called “Magi” coming to worship Jesus. Who were these men? The word “Magi” is probably referring to those who served a king(s) rather than those who were kings. Michael Wilkins notes,
“Magi were probably more along the lines of religious advisers to their court.”
These Magi traveled for months to cover approximately 900 miles to be able to worship this baby that was born a King! They find Jesus in a house, and at this point, Jesus is described by the word “child,” which indicates he was no longer a baby but an infant or toddler. This implies that he was at least months old at the time of their visit. This possibility is also supported by the fact that Herod wanted to kill all children under the age of two.
These Magi were also Gentiles not Jews. Why would God announce to Gentile Magi about the birth of Jesus? One reason is that God, in the very beginning is announcing the birth of his Son to the world. The significance is that salvation is open to not just the Jews but to the whole world!
When the Magi arrive in Bethlehem they worship Jesus and give him gifts. What was going on in their culture to cause these Magi to want to make this long journey to worship a Jewish baby born a King? Wilkins states,
“The people of Israel had long waited for the rightful heir to the throne, but God announces his arrival first through these Gentile Magi. An expectation had circulated in the world of the first century that a ruler would arise from Judea. Suetonius writes, ‘Throughout the whole of the East there had spread an old and persistent belief: destiny had decreed that at that time men coming forth from Judea would seize power [and rule the world].’. . This belief had penetrated beyond the borders of Israel, so that others were looking for a ruler(s) to arise from the land of Judea.”
The Magi then, come to Bethlehem to worship the one they had heard would rule the world. They most likely thought he was just a human king, but they worshipped God’s provision of this world leader and through that worshipped God. In contrast to the worship of the Magi, the Jewish leaders did nothing but try to help Herod execute him. God’s very own people, those who had the greatest opportunity to know him and worship him, have rejected his Son.
As we prepare for this great celebration of the birth of our Messiah, may we respond with hearts of worship like the Magi. May we take time to honor Jesus as our Lord and Savior!
Are you ready to worship our King?
 IBID, 106.