How Blind God’s Own People Can Be
We call them “wise men.” The Greek has the word, μαγοι, which we have transliterated, “magi.” I have spoken of them before. Every ancient kingdom had them from Egypt where we find them dueling with Moses in the Book of Exodus to Persia where we find them giving Xerxes advice in the Book of Esther. They were basically pagan astrologers and diviners utilizing the abominable practice of divination to discern the will of the gods, also known as demons.
These magi were apparently different. Perhaps they had met some Jews who were at that time scattered all over the empire. Maybe the hearts of these magi were touched by God upon hearing His word about a great king to be born to the Jewish nation who would usher in a kingdom of justice and peace. Regardless how He did it, God revealed Himself to these men and even allowed them to discern the time of our Lord’s birth through their observance of some celestial phenomenon which the Bible calls the rising of a star. And taking the star’s appearance as a sign of our Lord’s birth, they immediately set out on a trek that took almost two years. Why do I say two years? Because that was the age of the male children Herod had slaughtered throughout Bethlehem having ascertained from the wise men (ignorant of Herod’s intentions) the time of the star’s first appearance. Yes, you are accustomed to seeing the wise men at manger scenes at Christmas, which is all fine and well; but honestly, they would have arrived when Jesus was a toddler.
What I would like to highlight is the question the magi ask when they arrive in Jerusalem, “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.” They must have been shocked when met by blank stares. “King of the Jews? Born here? Where? When?” (Herod was obviously surprised, but more about that another day.) Had these magi visited some shepherds around Bethlehem, they would have received some reliable information. But how remarkable and convicting is this passage! Here are the people of God—the “King of the Jews” (aka, their Messiah) having been born right in their midst—and they know nothing of it. But some pagan astrologers all the way from who knows where (Babylon? Persia?) know about it and even make what had to be an expensive and arduous journey across miles of sand just so that they could offer him precious gifts, fall down, and worship him. How blind the people of God can be, and that before pagans! May it never be the case with us.