A Typical Herodian Ploy
Text: Matthew 2:1-23
After consulting with the chief priests and the scribes, Herod met up with the Wise Men. Appearing sincere and concerned, Herod attempted to dupe the Wise Men to search for the whereabouts of the Christ-child. His birthplace may have been in Bethlehem, but who knows where his parents had taken him. If this Child were indeed destined to be the future King of the Jews, Bethlehem would not be the place he would be prepared to become the next Ruler!
Herod controlled himself well. He had to plan his moves carefully. If he acted prematurely, the Christ-child may escape the net he was casting! Let the Wise Men do the leg work. Surely they couldn’t see through him!
“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.’ ”
Herod feigned interest in the birth of the Christ-child. He had to show some interest in the findings of the Wise Men. He fished for information from the Wise Men. Even as he listened to the Wise Men speak about how they saw a Star that seemed to herald the birth of the King of the Jews, he was secretly hatching a plan to kill Jesus!
The old King was most skilled in the art of deception! How else could he have remained in power for as long as he had been? He always seemed to be one step ahead of his rivals. He would use any and every means possible to put down any pretender to the throne he was sitting on!
How he must have laughed up his sleeve as he spoke of how he would appreciate it if the Wise Men could come back and tell him where they had found the Christ-child. Surely, he too would be interested to offer Him worship, since His destiny seemed to have been derived from a Divine source!
How could the Wise Men have seen through the charade that Herod put up for their benefit? They may have been astute scholars in their own right, but they were no match for the smooth-talking Herod! The Wise Men were completely taken in!
THE SEARCH FOR THE CHRIST-CHILD
The Wise Men once again resumed their search for the “King of the Jews”. They had already travelled far. It is not unlikely that their search could have taken more than a year! Jesus was already described as a “young Child” (Matthew 2:8) by King Herod. He did a quick calculation of the age of the Christ-child, as he listened to the Wise Men tell their story of how they sighted His star in the east. After their audience with King Herod, they took leave and wended their way to Bethlehem.
“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.”
Would the Wise Men be able to locate Jesus at all? They had stumbled into Herod. That was a mistake of horrendous proportion! The star that they had sighted when Jesus was born was now going to play an even more definite role. It would lead them, the Wise Men to where Jesus was!
We do not know why the Wise Men decided to look up Herod in the first place. Did they perhaps rely on their reasoning – that the King of the Jews would surely be born in a palace? Did they somehow fail to check how the Star was leading them? We may not know the answers to these questions, but we do know this for sure. God had to lead the Wise Men quickly to Jesus.
The quest of the Wise Men must be fulfilled as soon as possible. There was no time to waste. God knew that the wicked King had an alternative plan that he would soon set in motion if the Wise Men got wise to him, and did not report back, as he had requested!
THE QUEST OF THE WISE MEN ENDED IN WORSHIP OF JESUS
Jesus was of course no longer in the stable! Mary gave birth to Jesus in an outhouse meant for animals, but of course, Joseph would have found better accommodations as soon as possible.
“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
worshipped Him. And when they had opened
their treasures, they presented gifts to Him:
gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
Exceeding great joy filled the hearts of the Wise Men, not because their journey was at an end, but because the moment they caught sight of Jesus, they knew instinctively, that He was destined to be the King of the Jews!
What did they see when they looked at Jesus? Did they see only a little Child? The Wise Men took one look at Jesus and immediately recognized Him as One worthy of worship. Imagine, scholarly, mature and wise old men prostrating themselves to a Child! They even gave Him costly gifts! They had prepared these gifts and had kept them safe throughout the long journey to Bethlehem!
Who was Jesus? The Wise Men had already declared that He was “The King of the Jews”. They certainly did not worship Herod, even though he had the title conferred upon him by the Roman emperor to be king of Judea. Their long search for the King of the Jews was not in vain. The joy that filled their hearts when they saw Jesus was worth every bit of trouble endured in their long journey! Jesus was the Anointed One of God!