The Adoration of Christmas

In Matthew Chapter two, we read of how a group of wise men came from the far east to visit Jesus after His birth bringing him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. For most, this is the extent of their understanding of the story of the wise men’s visit. There is more to the story, though, if you read it in its larger context. The story contrasts how wise men when they come to the knowledge of the truth, go to great lengths to worship and adore the king. Fools, on the other hand, are troubled by the truth and seek to subvert the King by every possible means.
 
If you read carefully, you will see that the wise men had studied to know the truth. They pored over what must have been the most obscure manuscripts in Babylon. They searched for signs in the stars. As soon as the wise men saw the bright star in the west, they made the connection with Balaam’s prophecy in 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.” The wise men, armed with faith in the prophecy and a sign in the sky, struck out following the star. It would take them on a forty day, 800-mile journey, to Bethlehem.
 
Now, it gets really interesting whenever the positive reaction of the wise men to the truth is contrasted with Herod’s negative response. When Herod heard that the King of the Jews had been born, he was troubled (Matthew 2:3). He had good reason to be troubled. Herod held the official title of King of the Jews, but his legitimacy as king had been a major point of contention throughout his reign. He was troubled because it appeared that the rightful king was born. The wise men and even the stars in the sky bore testimony.
 
Herod summoned all the important people in Jerusalem—the chief priests, and scribes. The wise men were likely present as well. He questioned them about the prophecy and learned that the King of the Jews was to be born in Bethlehem. Herod then secretly summoned the wise men and bid them to report back to him when they found the child, that he too might go and worship Him.
 
Herod had absolutely no interest in worshipping the Christ child. The child was his enemy. The wise men, however, wanted to see Jesus. They wanted to worship Him and give Him their gifts. Herod’s pride stands in stark contrast to the humility of the wise men.
 
What happened next was a testimony to what Peter wrote to his people: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). The humble wise men were able to see Jesus. They rejoiced with exceedingly great joy, but Herod’s evil plan was thwarted. God warned the wise men in a dream not to return to the king, but to travel back to their homeland in the East by a different way.
 
This is just one of many stories in Scripture where wise men are rewarded and proud men are put to shame. The stories of Saul, Absalom, Ahab, and Jezebel are found in the Old Testament along with many others in the gospels, Acts, and the Epistles of the New Testament. Wise men always win, and fools always lose in the end.
 
In our day, wise men still seek Jesus. They still worship and adore Him, and fools still scheme in futility. We find the wise men of today faithfully serving and worshipping the Lord, humbling themselves and laying their gifts at Jesus’ feet. We find fools desperately seeking to hold on to their power, studying to learn just enough about Jesus that they might subvert His authority. The fools, like Herod, will be exposed and destroyed.
 

Here is the proper exhortation that flows out of the story of the wise men: Be wise; do not play the fool. Jesus is the way the truth and the life. God will not be mocked. No one comes to the Father except that they first bow down to the King of kings and receive his righteousness as their own. The ones who are wise enough to humble themselves will get to see the Savior face to face at the completion of life’s long journey.