My Thoughts. . .
Today folks depend on a GPS in their cell phone or car to get them from one location to another. The wise men in Matthew 2:1-12 had a divine, directional GPS. This GPS was not voice activated. Neither did it have a small screen. Yet, these men knew it was taking them to the location where “The King of the Jews” would be born (v.2). Although they had a valid GPS, they stepped out of character for men by asking for directions! Most men refuse such because they always know where they are going! Always!? These men should have trusted God’s GPS, but like most, they wanted to verify God’s directions by receiving man’s fallible instruction. That decision ends in trouble. Isn’t that typical? They decided to pay a courtesy visit to King Herod. Why? When you have God’s Star, you don’t need man’s standard? Kings aren’t omniscient.
When you don’t have all the answers, you find someone who does! Herod called in his best Bible scholars. “Where is the Messiah to be born?” Scholarship use the Bible for their answer, “Bethlehem of Judea” (v.5). With that information, he told the wise men to let him know the exact address so he too could worship this new born king (v.8). Some today, like my dear departed mother-in-law, would shout in Herod’s ear, “Liar, Liar, pants on fire.” It would be her nice way of telling Herod, “You’re going to hell for lying.”
When those wise men resumed their journey, their GPS had been patiently waiting for them to get back on track. It led them to the exact spot where they needed to go (v.9). Some fail to recognize that The Star did not lead them to the manger. Jesus had already been born. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were now in a “house” (v.11). That side trip to see the wrong king caused them to miss the angels and the shepherds. Since the Star was not voice activated, they did not hear, “At the next intersection make a U turn.” Much like the wise men, we trade God’s GPS, by seeking the wrong advice to get us to our heavenly destination!
Matthew doesn’t inform us of the number of wise men who arrived at their destination. Most assume that if there were 3 gifts, it had to be three men. Perhaps, but not necessarily so. It could have been ten wise men with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Numbers aren’t important, their purpose was.
These wise men seemed to possess more wisdom than some today. When they came before Jesus, they “fell down, and worshiped him” (v.11). When they were in Herod’s presence, nothing is said about them kneeling! When they presented themselves before this new born baby, they did. There are some Christians, that would do just the opposite! If there is no command to fall down to worship, then there is no purpose for such without that necessary command! We make up rules governing what and how to show respect, but none mimic the action of those wise men. Most recognize Jesus’ death with some who refuse to celebrate his birth. If they had been shepherds, they would have justified remaining with their sheep and ignoring the divine announcement.
Matthew does not inform us about Jesus’ circumcision nor of the earlier visit by the shepherds (Genesis 17:10-14; 21:4; Leviticus 12:3). Luke does. He leaves out the wise men and the moving van going to Egypt (Luke 2:21). Did they move from the stable to the house before or after the eighth day? Did the wise men come before or after the circumcision? The parents were warned in Matthew after the wise men left (Matthew 2:13-15). The urgency of this warning indicates that the 8th day circumcision had been accomplished before these gifted men arrived. Luke mentions two turtle doves or pigeons being offered for the circumcision. This indicates a poor family’s offering. If so, they were not in possession of the three types of expensive gifts brought later by the wise men. If they had been in possession of them, they would have offered a more expenses sacrifice. Also, these gifts would give them the resources needed for a trip to Egypt and an extended stay.
We are not informed about a GPS being used by Joseph and Mary to get from Bethlehem to Egypt. Neither writer explains what highway that took to arrive there! Apparently the divine one used by the wise men wasn’t available, then or on their return trip to Nazareth. Its limited purpose had been served.
If we are God’s GPS today, how well are we in giving His divine directions so others may come into the new Jerusalem?