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.” Matt 2:1-2
Jesus was nearly 2 yrs old by the time the wise men came to visit. Some of us may want to adjust our nativity scenes and put the wise men in a hallway or in the next room over from baby Jesus in the manger 🙂 We have a good idea of Jesus’ age because the text mentions Herod was the king at the time. Bethlehem is about 6 miles from Jerusalem and was just a little spot on the road to Jerusalem. Think Kentucky Town or White Mound or Fink up by Pottsboro…These “wise men” came from the east, probably from Persia. They would have been well read in Philosophy, science, charts, astrology. These guys were well read, well educated, respected and admired. The wise men would have been advisors to the king. Their insights would have been sought out by everyone. Also notable, they were Gentile, not Jewish. They would be the FIRST Gentile worshipers of Jesus.
Now why would a group of men, known to WISE travel to podunk middle of nowhere to worship a Jewish toddler. Why would someone so educated and admired do something so seemingly foolish??? Check this out: Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?….For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Cor 1:20-25 This text shows us that all the wisdom of the world is worthless without the wisdom of the divine. The wise men were highly esteemed and respected by people, but they knew themselves, they knew they were human. They felt the weight of their own sin. They knew that if they were all there was, there wasn’t much. Sooner or later we’re faced with the reality that they are finite. When that happens, we either look outside ourselves, toward the INFINITE, toward God, or we go on an egotistical feeding frenzy, building ourselves up in our mind, trying to suppress the fact that we need God. To the watching world, these wise men, going to worship a baby, born to a teenage girl in no name Bethlehem, said to be a king, born outside the house of Herod, with no political allies in Rome, would have seemed foolish. But the foolishness of God is better than the wisdom of man.
The wise men had seen a lot come and go in their time. They knew well their own limitations. But this Jesus was something different, something divine. 1 Cor 1:20 asks “where is the wise in this present age?” And the answer is, on his way out!! Every generation thinks they have moved beyond the need for God, the gospel, and a Savior. Every generation has those who think that have moved on from the antiquated things found in the Bible. They talk loud make a big splash, then like a crashing meteor, burn out burn before they make any lasting impact. But there will always be those who hold on with both hands to the Bible. They may be fewer at times than others, but they will always be there. Man doesn’t have to travel far to get to the end of himself.
We don’t function well apart from God, because we are made for him, to WORSHIP Him. God has a way of illuminating our need for Him and he had done so for these “wise men”. Wise men still seek Him 🙂 The wise men sought Jesus the same reason you and I do. Because we desperately need to be reconciled to God. “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in him.” -Augustine