In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” Matthew 2:1-2 (NRSV)
Herod wasn’t exactly a nice guy. Especially when anyone threatened his sovereignty. Herod saw himself as being In Charge, and anyone who may have been seen as a challenge to that control was seen as a threat to be neutralized. Later, when Herod learned that Jesus was indeed the long foretold King of the Jews, born in Bethlehem, he ordered what was to be known as the Slaughter of the Innocents-
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” Matthew 2:16-18 (NRSV)
Historically not much is known about the wise men from the east. Legend has it that there were three, however, the Bible does not give a number. There may have been two, or twenty. The important part of the story is that they followed the star that was put forth as a sign, and they searched after Jesus without even really being aware of what His coming meant for the world and for humanity. They also took heed to the warning given to them in a dream not to return to Herod, allowing time for Jesus’ family to take Him to safety in Egypt during this time. (Matthew 7:13-15)
It is said that “wise men still seek Him.” But do we really seek God with diligence in everything we do, and in everyone we encounter?
“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8 (NRSV)
Wisdom isn’t necessarily found as much in the answers as in asking the right questions. When we search and knock and ask God we might not get the answers we think we are going to get. The wise men sought after an earthly king- but they discovered what appeared to be a poor family with a infant that was born in an animal barn.
Did they know that they found the King of Kings? Are we seeking Him also?
Are we asking the right questions? Are we listening to the answers, and the warnings that God gives us?