Matthew 2:1-12

Visitors From The East

Mary and Joseph are busy adjusting to the challenges of being parents when men from the East arrive and seek an audience with King Herod. Herod ruled Palestine for Rome. Most of his reign was successful because he established a sense of peace, provided jobs for the working class, and completed a number of large construction projects including the temple. However, his final years as ruler were characterized by executions, family disputes, war, and conflict with Rome. The wise men from the east need answers and when they make their inquiry, it troubles Herod and all of Jerusalem. These visitors from the East could not have imagined that Herod would respond with such paranoia. The days of Herod will prove to be a most dangerous time to be perceived an heir to the throne. Herod's power is waning as he nears the end and he repeatedly resorts to violence and terror to prove his dominance. It must have come as a surprise to learn that Herod was shocked by this news. Herod is clearly ignorant of the scriptures and assembles the chief priests and scribes to locate where the Christ was to be born. These leaders point Herod to Micah's prophecy about Bethlehem. Herod brings the wise men in privately to understand the timeline for the star and then he tells them to find the child because he too is eager to worship. When the visitors leave, the star rose before them and guided them to the house where Jesus was staying. These men rejoiced to see the star and quickly made their way to the house. Mary and Joseph are busy with the chores of the day when they hear an unexpected knock at the door. These wise men enter the house, and when they saw Jesus with Mary, they fell to the ground and worshiped. They present gifts of gold (symbolic of a king), frankincense (symbolic of a priest) and myrrh (a symbol of suffering and death). The wise men just offer them as an act of worship. This pleasant visit turns to fear and subterfuge. The wise men from the east are warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and so they escape the region using a different route.

Things To Consider:

  • What does the visit of the wise men tell us about God's heart for the nations?
  • Why do we struggle to submit to Jesus' reign in our lives?
  • Why would news of the Messiah be troubling the people of Jerusalem?
  • Those that knew the scripture still missed Jesus. How does this happen today?
  • Why is an offering part of the worship described in both testaments?
  • How does God's presence bring joy?
  • What does the symbolism of the gifts remind us of concerning Jesus?
  • What can we learn from the faith of the wise men?