Lectionary Reading – Matthew 2:1-12
Down through the ages, people have loved to explore who the magi were, where they came from, what astronomical event became the Star of Bethlehem, how evil King Herod was, and how God protected Joseph, Mary, and her son from Herod. No one really knows about the star or the magi but I like to think the magi were Zoroastrian astrologers/astronomers from Persia because the Zoroastrians also believe in a messiah. I have read several ideas of what was going on in the skies around the time of Jesus’ birth and all I can say is that timing is crucial. But these discussions, while fun, do not speak to the hidden lesson.
Herod, arguably knew the teaching that a messiah would come, but when the magi appeared to him, he called the chief priest and scribes.
In my head, I hear the conversation going something like this.
Herod: Do you know where this Christ is supposed to be born?
Scribes and priests: Sure we know. Bethlehem in Judea. Micah wrote,
And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, you are by no means least among the leaders of Judah, for out of you will come a leader who will shepherds my people Israel.
What did those CHIEF PRIESTS and scribes do then? Nothing. There was a general expectation of a messiah at that time. There was always an expectation of a messiah when the Jews were not their own self-governing nation and were being persecuted, but also, Daniel 9 spoke of 483 years, by the Jewish calendar, between the word to start rebuilding Jerusalem and when messiah would be cut off. Time was getting short. The people were expectant.
So when King Herod asked them about this, why were the religious leaders not interested? Why did they not pursue the matter or start searching for this child themselves? This is the first indication of the hearts and minds of the Jewish leadership. They were completely apathetic to coming of the messiah. They ignored Him. He did not affect them. They would not let Him affect them.
How many of us use Christmas but ignore the Christ? We use the Christmas season to talk about peace, joy, goodwill toward men. The idea of a child bringing peace to the earth has been a favorite theme for generations. We use the themes of the child, the angels and shepherds, and the wise men without understanding and thus without meaning.
The Messiah does not call us to use Him once a year for some feel-good time. He is not apathetic about our response to Him. He calls us to know Him to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind, to understand our need for Him, 24/7/365. It is important to Him for us to know that we are a rebellious creation and that the Messiah is our vehicle to back to God. He will not let us ignore Him.
Note – I do not necessarily agree with everything on the Disciple of Christ website but they do give a detailed explanation on the Daniel prophecy. For more information, click here.