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 saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. (Matthew 2:1-4)
In the days when Jesus was born, there were wise men who came to see Him. Now, these wise men are often portrayed as king like people in films on the birth of Jesus, but these men, who are actually named as magi in the Greek, were more like the scientists, pagan priests, and seers of that day; much like the group of men we see Daniel grouped in with when he was taken captive to Babylon and found to have “wisdom like that of the gods” (Daniel 5:11). These particular magi appear to be of the Oriental scientific sect, having studied the stars of the sky and having knowledge of the prophecies from Israel on the coming Christ.
In this section of Scripture we see a stark contrast between these wise men and the foolish king Herod. The wise men searched for truth, finding the prophecies, such as the fact that there would be sign of a star with the coming of Christ as prophesied in Numbers 24:17; or the prophecies of the coming birth and details surrounding it as found in Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6, and Micah 5:2-5. Yet on the other hand, when brought to the attention of Herod the king that a king of the Jews had been born, Herod fully understood the meaning to be that this child was the Messiah when he assembled his own people to inquire of them about where the Christ was to be born. Instead of being filled with excitement, awe, and wonder at the fulfilling of this prophecy the way the shepherds had been upon first hearing the good news, his pride and selfish ambitions made him to act foolishly, deceitfully, and eventually destructively. The wise men were driven by the Scriptures, and Herod was driven by a snare of the devil, who seeks only to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).
In these last days of the present darkness, we need now more than ever to have wisdom to seek after Jesus. We have even more than the wise men had in their day. They had copies of parchments and their eyes to the sky, charting patterns and trying to interpret meanings. We have a complete cannon of the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit who dwells within those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
These wise men had wealth to be able to gain education in their field, had the means to travel so far, and had the means to offer such pricey gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus upon their arrival. They came to see and serve Jesus Christ, but they never would have gotten to serve Him if they hadn’t followed His star.
John 12:26 says, “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” This verse is seen in the wise men and their decision to follow the star to Jesus in order to serve Him, and the Father honored their service with recognition and preservation of it in His Word.
There is a difference between those who believe and those who follow. Herod believed the Scriptures that the prophecies of the Christ were true, otherwise he wouldn’t have killed all those babies in attempt to prevent what he thought was a threat to his rule. But he didn’t follow the Christ. Instead, he tried to destroy Him because in his pride he wouldn’t allow even the Christ, Messiah to rule over him. As a follower of Jesus, we not only accept Him as Savior from penalty of our sin, but we must accept Him as Lord of our life, fully surrendering our own will to follow His and serve Him in it. That is our reasonable service and worship to Him.
Where are you at in your level of surrender to Jesus? Are there things in your life that you’ve yet to let go of, truly letting all grip and control go and be replaced with following Jesus at all costs? Is there anything you wouldn’t give up to follow Jesus, even unto death? Are there things, even in serving in ministry, that you could have too firm a grip on? I want to encourage you to think on all the things in your life, examine your own heart, and invite God to search your heart and lovingly and kindly point out areas that you may still need to surrender to Him. Things not surrendered to God are the things that weigh you down. God wants to free you from these so you can live an abundant life in Him.
Serving Jesus shouldn’t be a chore, a burden, or a thing to be controlled; it should be a joy, a pleasure, an adventure, and a lifestyle as you follow Him and are empowered by Him. I’ll leave you with this quote by Spurgeon:
“If I want to be Christ’s servant, I must be His follower.” (Charles Spurgeon)