It is in Matthew’s gospel that we find the only account of the wise men seeking Christ Jesus, and there are questions about these men we will never decisively answer.
Where were they from? Matthew covered a large territory when he said they were from “the east,” and the truth is no one knows where they lived.
Who were these wise men, sometimes called Magi? There are many ideas about these men that range from magicians and sorcerers to astrologers and priests.
How many wise men looked for Jesus? Tradition tells us there were three, a number associated with the number of gifts they brought. However, we cannot know this for certain, and there could have been a caravan of many wise men who came to Bethlehem.
The star they followed, as expected, presents questions. Some people have tried to explain the star by saying planets lined up so one bright object appeared in the sky, but would this phenomenon have lasted long enough for the men to find their way during a journey lasting for a number of days? Such an alignment certainly would not have moved to guide the wise men to a particular destination as Matthew recorded in the ninth verse. God can do what He wants with stars.
When did they arrive in Bethlehem? Again, this is a matter of much debate. It seems probable they arrived in Jerusalem soon after the birth of Christ Jesus since Matthew said, “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea.”
What we do know is that the wise men first came to Jerusalem, the capital city, where they caused quite a stir. “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” they asked.
King Herod was troubled by what the men said, as was “all Jerusalem with him.” Herod did not want a rival, and most of the people did not want anything that would change the way they were living. The king assembled all of the religious officials and asked them “where Christ should be born.” Quoting from the scriptures, they told the king that Bethlehem was the birthplace of Christ.
None of these people went to Bethlehem, a small town only about five or six miles from Jerusalem. What a pity that they had head knowledge of Christ, but no heart knowledge of Him. Beware because this condition still exists. A person can know the Bible from cover to cover, but still be lost because he does not know Jesus.
When the wise men arrived in Bethlehem, they “fell down, and worshipped him.” They did not hear Him teach or see Him heal. There was nothing to suggest His divinity, and yet those men fell down and worshipped Jesus. That is faith, real faith. And God has honored their faith by recording it forever in His Word.
It is a wonderful thing to know about Christ Jesus, and I pray that many people have that knowledge. There is something far greater, though, and it is experiencing God’s grace in your heart. In other words, knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. I pray that you have this kind of knowledge.
Merry Christmas and God bless you.
The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church.He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.