The Anticipation of the Messiah

It is not only Christian people who are expecting the Second Coming of Christ, the frustrated youth of America sense that judgment is near. Their sons reflect their anxiety. One popular record is called “Dooms-Day.” In his big number one record, “Bad Moon Rising,&q … More


“Herod the king” mentioned here was known as Herod the Great (v. 1), whose family though nominally Jewish, was in reality an Edomite who became king with Rome’s help. It is no surprise that he was disturbed when the wise men came to Jerusalem looking for the one who had been “born king” (v. 2). He was certainly not a king from the line of David. In fact he was descended from Esau and thus was an Edomite. If someone had truly been born king, then Herod’s job was in jeopardy.

These wise men “from the east” mentioned here were perhaps from the area of ancient Babylon where Daniel had been chief of the governors. At least they seem to have been familiar with the prophecies of Daniel 9:24-26. Tradition claims that there were three royal visitors who were also kings. However there is no real historical evidence to verify this.

When the wise men saw the star in the east it confirmed their expectation. From their understanding of Scripture they had expected the King of the Jews to be at Jerusalem so that is why they went there first, instead of Bethlehem. At Jerusalem they learned from the scribes that the Savior would be born  at Bethlehem (vv. 3-6). They clearly anticipated a literal fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies (Micah 5:2). The implication is that the Jews of that day were anticipating the Messiah. The star then appeared again and this time it led them to the house where the baby Jesus lay (vv. 7-12). Herod secretly called in the wise men and told them to search for the child and when they found Him to let him know (v. 7). However they were warned in a dream not to tell Herod (v. 11). 


If a group of strangers came to me and said they had seen a star and were following it, what would I have thought? Would I have thought they were crazy or would I have joined them to find Jesus? I need to be helping others try to find Him.

Matthew 2:1-12 (English Standard Version)

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.

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »