Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
The way in which these men acted throws a flood of light on their characters.; at the same time, it opens up to us lessons of general application. The Magi are examples to us in their effort to find Christ, and in their conduct when they had found him.
I. THE SEARCH FOR CHRIST.
1. Its origin. The Magi had seen "his star in the East." This appearance was in accordance with the character of their own study and observation. God can use a variety of methods to bring us to Christ - the science of the naturalist, the literature of the book-student, the work of the business man. He even used the astrology of the Magi.
2. Its method.
(1) The pursuit of knowledge already attained. These men knew their star, and to this they clung. We can best reach new truth by following the revelation already possessed by us.
(2) A trust in heavenly guidance. The star in the physical heavens was regarded as a beacon from the spiritual heavens. In this case God permitted it to serve as such a beacon. Thus the guidance was from God. We must lift up our eyes to the heavens if we would see the way to Christ.
(3) A use of earthly means. At Jerusalem the Magi consulted Herod, and he took counsel of the rabbis. The fresh star in the heavens did not eclipse the light of ancient Hebrew prophecy. This still had its sphere in discovering Bethlehem. Divine revelation does not dispense with human study. New lights do not extinguish old truths.
3. Its character.
(1) An energetic search. The Magi set off on a long journey to find Christ. They did not wait for him to find them; they made it their business to discover him. Such a search deserves the reward of finding. Many do not know Christ because they will not take the trouble to seek him.
(2) A persevering search. The Magi travelled far and pressed their suit, not resting till they had attained their end. The truly wise man will not abandon his search because of any amount of discouragements.
II. THE DISCOVERY OF CHRIST. At length the Babe was found. Every true seeker after Christ will be rewarded by seeing him. Such a discovery is full of fruitful issues.
1. Its blessedness. The Magi seem to have lost sight of the star during their anxious interviews with Herod at Jerusalem. When they were out in the country again the star reappeared; for the heavens are larger and brighter in the solitudes of nature than where they bend over the crowds of city life. It was a happy sight when the star reappeared, but only because this was the promise of the nearing sight of the infant Saviour. To reach him is to come to the heart's greatest joy.
2. Its result. The Magi opened their rich stores and presented them to the Child. They set out with the object of worshipping him; this is the way in which they performed their intention. Their liturgy was an act of sacrifice. It is unworthy only to seek Christ for the sake of the good we hope to obtain for ourselves. He is worthy of adoration, and we can best express our adoration by service and sacrifice. Some will not measure the gift. He whose heart is on fire with devotion to Christ will not ask with what minimum will his Lord be satisfied; he will love to give his best. The Christian can now give to the babe Jesus in giving to one of his little ones (Matthew 10:42). - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,