“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, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2).
Not much is known about these wise men. In all likelihood they were not Jewish, yet they knew about Jesus. How was this possible? It is entirely possible if we recognize that all nations began in the full knowledge of God. At creation everyone heard about the coming Christ child with each succeeding generation being taught of this. And those that entered the Ark were undoubtedly fully aware of this fact, too. Even though people began departing from God’s teachings soon after the Ark landed, it is easy to imagine that some vestige of knowledge of Jesus was retained by the many false religions that evolved over time.
Tradition says the Magi are known for their practice of magic and other arts forbidden by the written law of God. Obviously, they had at some point in their history turned their backs on this law to serve their own imaginations of eternal truths. Yet, they knew enough to search for Christ when a strange star suddenly appeared in the sky. God was calling specifically to the Magi in the wilderness through the appearance of the star, as He still does to each person today through various means. It must have been their past knowledge of Scripture, perhaps of Moses’ writings about a “star out of Jacob” (Num 24:17), that caused them to answer God’s call by diligently searching for the Messiah of the Jews. What else could have motivated the Magi to follow this remarkable star to find the king of another nation? It had to have been the seed of truth planted many generations ago that was now being revealed to them by God.
When they arrived in Jerusalem the Magi immediately began asking the Jews for the location of the baby Messiah. After all, this was the royal city of the Jews so the Magi probably figured that there must be knowledge about His birth in this city. To their surprise, no one in the streets could answer their question until they were summoned to appear before Herod. This was not joyous news for Herod to hear of a competitor to his throne so he inquired of the Jews’ priests and scribes who were supposed to be well-versed in Scriptural prophecy. They were. They knew exactly where Christ was to be born: “in Bethlehem of Judea” (Matt 2:5).
Although the Jews were fully aware of the coming Messiah they were unwilling to seek for Him. In fact, they eventually crucified Him. This brief treatment of the diligent search for Christ by a backslidden people illustrates the great love God has for all individuals, including you. There is an innate understanding in each of us—as there was in the Magi— to know that there is a God of the universe,
“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).
Like the Magi, if we answer God’s call He will lead us to the salvation provided by the Christ child. Jesus paid for your sins on the cross. Now He calls you to repentance and forgiveness of your sins in His name as proclaimed by a believer on earth. Are you willing to search for this gospel and believe it through the power of the spoken word and the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, or will you count yourself as one of the priests and scribes of our day and be unwilling to accept this free offer of eternal salvation?
God’s Peace, Charles Korhonen TAPIOLA APOSTOLIC LUTHERAN CHURCH