IF THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE SHOWED UP ON EARTH TONIGHT, would you be excited to see Him?
As we move forward in our Advent peace study, I want to take you to the Gospel of Matthew, second chapter, verses 1-4. It’s the chapter about the Wise Men coming from the east to worship Jesus after His birth.
“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.’
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.”
You can find a lot of commentaries about this passage online, and I would encourage you to do more research, but let me give you just a screen-shot background.
First and foremost, this event actually occurs around two years after Jesus’s birth, so Jesus is probably two.
Second, King Herod is a Roman who has been appointed by the Romans to rule over the Jews. So he’s not a Jew; but evidently he knows something about Jewish law and prophecy.
Another thing to know about him is that he’s evil. Pure evil. And power hungry. And probably mentally imbalanced. He has three of his sons murdered, and his mother-in-law and his second wife. This is a man who sounds paranoid and doesn’t trust others. And he certainly seems to revel in his power.
He lives in Jerusalem. And that’s where the wise men go to find him, to obtain information about the location of the King of the Jews.
Notice how they title Jesus? As “King of the Jews.” Inferring that Jesus is the real king, and they know and acknowledge that? And maybe Herod isn’t?
How would you react?
First, I doubt that three plain old wise men from the east riding into town, requesting an audience with King Herod, would have gotten much notice, IF they were just wise men, and IF just the three of them came riding in like you or I would enter a city. As many authors have suggested, they could have been kings themselves. But Scripture never says there were just three of them; and they probably came into town with a resplendent entourage and a stream of servants and horses or camels carrying baggage.
Be assured, they got everyone’s attention.
Including the Jerusalem residents.
What gold nuggets are in those verses?
In just four lines in Scripture you learn that:
1. The wise men know Jesus is to be worshipped. So that means he’s incredibly important, and His birth is significant—to everyone.
2. Herod evidently knew and believed in the prophecies, enough to realize that this newborn king is the Christ, the anointed one of Israel. The Messiah. In verse 4, we see him gathering all the chief Jewish priests and scribes together to tell him where the Christ is to be born.
3. The arrival of the wise men and Herod’s reaction certainly got the attention of the residents, because it’s clear that they hear about the wise men’s reason for arrival and their request. Someone must have made a big deal about it and spread the word. Quickly.
And we learn something else, in verse 3, that surprised me. I’d never noticed it before. Let’s read it again:
“When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” (My emphasis.)
Now, I can understand old Herod being troubled. Terrified, probably. With any possibility of someone else grabbing his throne, Herod is reactive and proactive. He’s not about to let that happen. But now here comes this baby who threatens his rule and very existence. And he’s terrified.
Not what you’d expect—
But the people?! Why are they troubled? (Historians estimate the population to be between 20,000 and 80,000, with best guestimates at 40,000.) I can understand the Roman citizens being nervous, but they didn’t believe in all of that Jewish prophecy anyway, so we can probably discount them from the passage.
But shouldn’t the Jews be excited that prophecy has been fulfilled and their long-awaited Christ has been born? Their Savior, their King? After all, some historians say there were probably 6,000 Pharisees in Jerusalem. The Scripture-sleuths. The crème de la crème of Jews.
But they’re not excited. They’re troubled. Troubled.
Why? It doesn’t say they’re ambivalent about Him, or disinterested. It says they were troubled. What reasons do you think they might have for being troubled about Jesus’ birth?
I can think of several.
1. A new king would upset the apple cart they’re used to. People usually don’t like change.
2. They automatically react to Herod’s reaction, like mob mentality, without giving it much thought.
3. They know who this king must be, and they believe in Him, but they’re a little nervous about what He’s going to think of them. And maybe what He’s going to do to them.
And then there’s the big reason—
They don’t know Him, and they’re afraid.
Second Advent details
Scripture says that when He returns again, those who don’t know Him are going to be frightened. Things are going to get so bad that the unbelievers would rather have a boulder drop on them than face the events.
My question for you is: How about you? If He returned tonight, would you be troubled, or would you be oozing joy and praising Heaven?
Would you be humbled, or anxious?
Would you be excited, or trying to hide?
Or would you be like the wise men who searched for Him, found Him, and worshiped Him?
Are you in King Herod’s camp, or the Wise Men’s?
Where would you like to be?
If you’re a wise person and have found Him, amen! I’ll be worshiping right alongside you. I might be flat on my face worshiping, but I will be worshiping.
If you’re unsure, I pray that you take this Advent season to search and find. He will be found by you if you search diligently and honestly for Him. With an open heart.
And when He has been found, worship! You will have crossed over from Herod’s camp to Jesus’.
And you won’t be troubled about His return.
Make it a great week!
May you prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers (3 John 2).