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, 2 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.” (Matthew 2:1-2)
In Matthew 2:2, we observe from the Magi a question as they searched, a reason behind their search and a purpose for their search. Let’s look at each of these items separately.
What was the Magi’s question as they searched? It was, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” This question is what the Magi continued to ask when they arrived in Jerusalem. They must have presumed that a new born king of the Jews would be born in the Jewish capital of Jerusalem. They were mistaken.
The reason behind their search was that they “saw his star when it rose. What was the star of which the Magi referred? The IVP Background Commentary of the New Testament explains that, “Astronomers have offered various proposals for the appearance of this star in the first decade b.c. The ancients thought comets and falling stars predicted the fall of rulers; some emperors even banished from Rome astrologers who issued such predictions. By this period many Jewish people accepted the idea that the stars could accurately predict the future. Even though these Magi were pagans, God had chosen to reveal himself to them.”
Dr. John Walvoored speculates that, “This special revelation may simply have been in the sky, as might be indicated by their title “Magi” (specialists in astronomy) and by the fact they referred to a star which they saw. Or this revelation could have come through some contact with Jewish scholars who had migrated to the East with copies of Old Testament manuscripts. Many feel the Magi’s comments reflected a knowledge of Balaam’s prophecy concerning the “star” that would “come out of Jacob” (Num. 24:17). Whatever the source, they came to Jerusalem to worship the newborn King of the Jews.”
The word star (ἀστήρ; aster) may refer not only to a physical star, but also a planet or even a supernatural light for leading. This third meaning seems to be the star to which the Magi referred to and which Matthew later describes as leading the Magi to the exact location of Jesus and his human parents.
What was the ultimate purpose for the Magi’s search? The text says, “For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Their purpose was worship. Worship is defined as the action, expressed by attitude and possibly by position, of one’s allegiance to and regard for deity.
The Magi came to worship God. What a wonderful and biblical idea.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!