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. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
“‘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.’”
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. – Matthew 2:1-12 (ESV)
How excited these religious experts must have been to hear the news! They couldn’t be sure that the Magi were right that the Messiah had been born, but they knew where He would be born – in Bethlehem. Thankfully, Bethlehem was just six miles south of Jerusalem. Because Jerusalem is elevated, you can actually see Bethlehem from there. The religious leaders could walk to Bethlehem in less than 90 minutes … and if the story the Magi told were false … they could be home by dinner. And what if the Magi were right? Four centuries of silence from God would end with the Messiah coming into the world right in their own back yard. Surely, everyone there who could still walk would walk, or better run, all the way to Bethlehem to see if the Messiah had come. Well, at least some of the religious leaders would go and check it out – wouldn’t they? Not at all! It turns out that not a single one of the religious leaders made this six-mile trip. The Magi who had already traveled nearly 900 miles to worship the newborn king would travel the last six miles alone. When Herod asked the religious leaders where the Messiah would be born, they knew the right answer. It rolled right off of their tongues. They were experts in the law. But they were more concerned about being right than about being righteous. Regretfully, religious leaders are frequently like that. What about you? The question we need to answer this isn’t “What about them?” It is “What about us?” Almighty God is moving heaven and earth so that Jesus Christ will be worshipped among every tribe, tongue, and people; yet some of those with the greatest spiritual privilege are failing to do so. Will you respond with anger like Herod, with indifference like the religious leaders, or will you by faith come and worship Him?
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 16
Q. 16. Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression.