“Now after the days 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 have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’” Matthew 2:2
Two years may have passed after the birth of Jesus by the time the wise men arrived to meet Him. Herod the Great was in power. His nationality was half Jew, half Idumean, and through accommodation to the Romans, he ascended to power as a political leader over the land. Religiously, Herod was a heretic, for if he was truly a Jew he would have been looking for the Messiah. Politically, he was a tyrant because not only did he increase taxes and enforce labor from the Israelites, but also he would later issue a decree to have all children under the age of two be put to death.
The wise men were known as Magi. They were not kings, but a combination of wise men and priests probably from Persia. They played both political and religious roles and were figures of some province in their land. I believe what made these men wise was not the fact that they were educated both politically and religiously, but that they came humbly to worship the King. The Greek word for worship is “proskuneo” and it is used sixty-one times in the New Testament. Among the people of that day, especially the Persians, it was used to describe a person who would fall on their knees and touch the ground with their forehead as an expression of profound reverence.
It seems to me today that many Christians are worried about the political and religious issues going on in our world which are not unlike the issues that went on in the days of Herod. So, to kick off the New Year, I thought it would be wise to dig a little deeper into how the wise men worshiped in order to prepare us for what lies ahead in 2018. Join us Sunday for a special message titled “Wise Men Worship” and be praying about someone you can bring along with you.
Happy New Year to all y’all and hope to see you on Sunday!