Mary and Joseph remained in Bethlehem for at least a few weeks after Jesus was born, and it may well have been during that time when the wise men visited Him. They had seen a star appear in the sky about two years earlier that led them to Jerusalem. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about those wise men. We can assume that the new star they saw was placed in the sky by God, and that He somehow revealed the significance of the star to them. We don’t know, however, which country they came from or how long they traveled. If they departed from their home country soon after they first saw the star, they started on their journey almost two years before Jesus was born! It’s quite obvious that they knew Jesus was worth traveling a long way to see, and that He was worthy to be worshipped and given expensive gifts appropriate for kings. He was God!
Wicked King Herod didn’t like hearing the news that a baby had been born who was destined to be king of the Jews, because at that time, he was a king over the Jewish people. (Herod hadn’t been elected by the Jewish people to be king, but was appointed to be king by the Roman government that then controlled Israel.) Herod wanted to kill the new baby, but all he knew about the child was that He had been born in Bethlehem (as the prophet Micah had predicted), and that His special star had appeared in the sky about two years before. So Herod told the wise men that once they found the child, they should return and tell him so that he could go to Bethlehem and worship Him also. He was lying of course, and was really planning to kill Jesus. Herod was so evil that when he realized that the wise men weren’t going to return to him with the details he requested, he ordered that every boy two years old and younger in the region of Bethlehem be killed by Roman soldiers. It was just as horrible as you can imagine, and Jeremiah had predicted it about 600 years earlier in a prophecy about Rachel, the wife of Israel, weeping for her dead children. The murdered boys were perhaps some of Rachel’s descendants through her sons Joseph and Benjamin. Rachel herself had died in Bethlehem.
We are blessed to live in a nation where no one has the kind of absolute power that Herod had. No one in the United States has the authority to order the mass killing of people he doesn’t like. But no matter where injustice exists, we know that God will ultimately bring justice because He is loving and fair. Did you notice that it wasn’t long after the slaughter of the little boys in Bethlehem that Herod died? (see Matthew 2:19). People always “reap what they sow,” which means that God will treat them like they treat others. Unless Herod repented of his horrible sins and believed in Jesus, when he died he perished in hell.
Q. The wise men from the east brought Jesus some very expensive gifts, including gold. Can you think of a reason why Jesus may have needed those expensive things?
A. It’s possible that Mary and Joseph used those gifts to support their little family during their flight to Egypt. If that was the case, God used the wise men to provide for their needs until they could return to Nazareth. There Joseph could support his family as a carpenter.
Q. What makes murder wrong?
A. Murder is wrong for several reasons. First, because every human being is created in God’s image, and when a person is murdered, it is the killing of one who looks something like God. When someone angrily destroys or defaces a photograph of another person, it is an offence against the person in the photograph. If for no other reason, we should respect other human beings because they’re created in God’s image. Second, murder is wrong because every person is loved by God, so no one has the right to take the life of another person. When someone commits a murder, he has taken the life of someone who was loved by God. Murder is the highest form of selfishness.
Application: Wise people know that Jesus is worth traveling to see, even if it takes months. He deserves to receive their best gifts, and is worthy to be worshiped. We are a wise family!