Matthew 2:1-12 Three Wise Men

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his starwhen it rose and have come to worship him.”

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,     are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler     who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Three Wise Men

So, who is the King of the Jews?  This is one of the questions raised in the passage above.  Herod was a tyrant.  He murdered his own children and wife because he was paranoid of their taking the throne.  He wasn’t Jewish at all, but he was a puppet King of the Jews, put there by the Romans.  He had done a lot to ensure his own glory, and the glorious succession of his kingdom by his own children.  The leadership of Jerusalem had bought into his leadership and had received many great buildings and fortifications as a result.  Then a group of scholars from Babylonia trundles into Jerusalem looking for the new heir.  they have been following a star to commemorate his birth.  Herod finds out that Jesus is only two years old or younger.  No real threat, if he can just get the wise men from the east (it doesn’t say there were three), to tell him where the threat to his dynasty is.

However, the delicate dynasty of Jesus is preserved supernaturally and his true kingship is established more by the mighty protection of God than Herod’s is by his paranoid machinations.  A toddler is swept up and has gifts that can pay his way to Egypt and escape.  Angels subtly undo Herod’s subterfuge, and all is well.  The same God guides the way to the future in our days.  He brings together the forces that will do his will.  Quietly but firmly God opposes the proud, and the Father establishes the Kingdom of Heaven wherever he wills on the face of the planet.  Wise people turn away from busyness, consumerism, and power.  They find Jesus, and they walk a different path home.


  1. What are the three kings really called?
  2. How are Jesus and Herod contrasted?
  3. How does God move along his plan of redemption for the people?
  4. What forces tug for control of your life?
  5. What direction is God leading you in for the future of yourself and your family?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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