The wisemen who came from the east are a bit of an enigma to us, mostly because of the timing of their arrival. The traditional Christmas Story I’ve seen all my life has the story of the birth of Jesus all tied up in a neat package.
The star appeared.
Jesus was born.
The shepherds in the field saw the star.
The wisemen from the east saw the same star and they brought gifts to the child.
While all of that happened, I was led to believe it all happened on that one magical night.
We do know from Isaiah 60:3 (NKJV) it was foretold “The Gentiles shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
We do know that Gentile kings traditionally known as wisemen saw a light (a star) and they traveled a distance to investigate the appearance of the light (https://www.jba.gr/about-the-wise-men.htm).
We do know from Matthew 2:1-4 (NKJV), “Now after 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.”
So, when the Wisemen got to town (whenever that was) they naturally went to visit the King, (assuming he would know what was going on in his kingdom) to ask him where this new king lived.
Matthew 2:3-4 (NKJV) tell us, “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.”
Clearly, this was the first time King Herod heard a new KING had been born. In addition to that, the visiting wisemen who came from the East said the new guy in town was ‘King of the Jews.’ That would have really thrown Herod for a loop, because he knew nothing about this ‘new King’. Herod did have a relationship with the Jews that dated back to his grandfather Antipas who converted to Judaism. Herod’s parents were split; his father was raised Jewish and his mother was Hellenistic (basically Greek); (https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/portrait/hellenisticculture.html). Herod considered himself Jewish but for many Jews at the time of Jesus, he wasn’t Jewish enough.
His relationship with the Jewish community in his kingdom had been somewhat problematic because of his ‘tainted’ background (https://www.thetorah.com/article/how-jewish-was-herod).
We learn from Matthew 2:5-6 (NKJV) “So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”
Upon hearing this, King Herod’s antenna would have definitely have been turned on so Herod decided to investigate further.
In Matthew 2:7-8 (NKJV), we read, “Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
Now Herod was a fairly astute politician. He didn’t get to where he was by not having a few tricks up his sleeve. What Herod didn’t know is that the God of the Jews was THE GOD and He had other plans.
In Matthew 2:9-12 (NKJV) we know, “When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.”
God had a whole other plan that didn’t include notifying Herod of the location of the child. It wasn’t a New Jewish King vs. King Herod kind of moment. It was so much greater! God’s plan was never for Jesus to rule an earthly kingdom.
Throughout His time on earth, even Jesus’ disciples thought at some point Jesus would make His move and would rule on earth. I think that’s partly what happened to Judas when he betrayed Jesus. He just didn’t get it. The other disciples didn’t get it either. Even though they didn’t turn Jesus in, they did scatter when He was arrested.
Even Peter denied him.
The disciples thought it was Jesus (and God) who had duped them and forgotten the plan. They felt betrayed and alone. Honestly, at that point even if God would have tried to tell them He had a plan, they wouldn’t have understood it. The best case scenario was for God to move forward with the plan He had all along. After GOD’s plan played out...the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection, the disciples would understand.
And so, in many ways that’s the case with us. We all have faced or will face confusing times. I know I have (and will). When it happened I asked God to show me the way. I wanted to be able to see to the other side, but I couldn’t. It was because I just didn’t have enough context. Still, I can see now that God always had my best interests at heart.
Even If God would have told me on the other side of a terrible trial I would be better off, I wouldn’t have believed it. When I divorced in 2004 I begged God to stop it. I reminded God I took the vow seriously. I reminded God that He created marriage and He loves marriage. It took years for me to learn that while God did love my marriage, HE LOVED ME MORE. The truth was that there were many things I didn’t know about. I couldn’t see the whole picture of my life. I didn’t know that God had a plan for me that went beyond ‘broken’.
In 1st Century B.C., God knew our world was so broken that we needed a Savior. Saving US was always his plan. All the prophets had been given ‘pieces’ to the puzzle. Slowly, those pieces emerged to the point where it made sense, but it took time...lots of time.
So it is with you.
Therefore, Today’s Spiritual Practice is remember your ‘broken’
Look back on your life and see how God took the broken pieces and made something good out of your pain. Thank God for having a greater plan for you than you could have imagined!
In Jesus, Deb
Deborah Ireland Douglas Jones