4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “‘and you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” (Matthew 2:4–6)
King Herod wanted to know where the newborn king of the Jews was to be born. What city, town or hamlet? He did not know the answer so he summoned all the chief priest and scribes. Following their arrival to the king’s palace in Jerusalem, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. It is interesting that Herod did not know the biblical answer.
“The chief priests belonged mainly to the wealthy aristocracy of Sadducees. “Scribes” applies to experts in the Jewish law, most of whom were also teachers of the law. Herod exercised a great deal of influence over the prominent leaders of the people, having forcibly removed most of his political opponents,” the IVP Bible Background Commentary of the New Testament says,
However, the chief priests and scribes certainly did know the biblical answer to Herod’s question. They told Herod that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, according to the Prophet Micah. They even quoted Micah 5:2 which says, “and you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
“This ancient prophecy from Micah 5:2 was written in the eighth century B.C. The original prophecy, not quoted in full by Matthew, declared the deity of Israel’s Messiah: “from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” The other portion of Matthew’s quote actually seems to be a reference to God’s words to David when Israel’s kingdom was originally established (2 Sam. 5:2; 1 Chron. 11:2). The Greek word for “ruler” evokes the image of strong, even stern, leadership. “Shepherd” emphasizes tender care. Christ’s rule involves both (cf. Rev. 12:5),” one commentator writes,
It is ironic that the chief priests and scribes knew the exact answer and location of the Messiah’s birth. What they did not have was even an idle curiosity to travel the distance from Jerusalem to Bethlehem (5 miles) to see if indeed Micah’s prophecy had come true. What a shame.
“The apathy of the teachers and priests s pathetic, but all too typical. “Religious people were often the last to receive Jesus. If the pagans had seen Jesus’ signs, if they had heard His preaching, Jesus says they would have repented (Matt. 11:20-24; 12:41-42). But the religious people saw no need of repentance. It was true then and remains all too true today. Sometimes those who most know the faith in the mind know it least in the heart. They should have joined the Magi and traveled to Bethlehem,” states commentator Daniel M. Doriani.
I Corinthians 2:14 says, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” The chief priests and scribes were religious but apparently, they did not have a heart for the Lord as demonstrated by their inaction.
What about you? Do you only know Christ in your mind? What about your emotions and your will?
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!