Bible Reading: Matthew 2
On any given Sunday, people around the world will gather in their local churches to worship Jesus, singing songs of praise to Him and hearing from His Word. Though they’ve not seen Him, they love Him! On any given day, around the world, you can hear others cursing Him, choosing His name, amongst all other possibilities, to decry their plight or particular situation. There is no one more polarizing figure than Jesus. No one more loved or more hated. Indeed, the “thoughts from many hearts” are revealed through Him (Luke 2:35). He is at the epicenter of the long war against God. You can love Him, or you can hate him (Colossians 1:21), but no one will be able to ignore Him forever (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10).
Our chapter speaks to these two dueling responses. The “magi from the east” came from afar to worship the newborn king. They were not kings, but Babylonian “king-makers.” It is amazing that God would call these Gentiles from such a faraway place to acknowledge the birth of the newborn King! There were undoubtedly more than three, since when the king heard of their presence in Jerusalem, “he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Matthew 2:3). The thought of three is but a tradition likely rooted in the three-fold gifts.
The worship of the magi involved extraordinary sacrifice. They left their comfortable homes. They endured a dangerous and arduous journey, covering hundreds of miles, through “field and fountain, moor and mountain.” Still, they never stopped following the star which “went on before them, until it came stood over where the Child was” (Matthew 2:9). That star led them to Jesus. Having found Him, “They fell down and worshiped Him; and opened their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11). Their gifts served to acknowledge His identity as God (frankincense; Matthew 1:23), King (gold; Matthew 2:2), and Savior (myrrh; Matthew 1:21). True worship involves much love and sacrifice.
Herod, on the other hand, did not share in the magi’s worshipful ways. He summoned the chief priests and scribes, inquiring of them where the Christ was to be born. With ill intent, he then summoned his own wise men to determine the timing of the star’s appearance. He feigned worship, but had no love or place in his heart for the newborn king. The wise men found Jesus, but then returned to their country on a different route, thus tricking Herod. Herod responded by slaughtering all the male children in Bethlehem two years of old and under. Why? He loved his power and position and prosperity and had nothing but disdain for anyone who would work to usurp his sinful ways or his worship of himself (John 3:19-21). He hated the newborn Christ and his hatred spilled over in horrific ways to cause immeasurable pain and sorrow to many.
And so, it remains to this day. You can love Him, or you can hate Him, but you’ll not be able to ignore Him forever (Philippians 2:9-11). The wise men of old have set a good example for us to follow. They “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” when they saw the star and were led to the Savior (Matthew 2:10). True, Spirit-led, worship leads us to do the same (1 Peter 1:8b). Wise worshipers still seek Him and love Him!
You can love Jesus, or you can hate Him, but you’ll not be able to ignore Him forever.
Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah,
Offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
Twixt that darkness and that light.