The Heart of the Wise Men

by Jacob Hudgins

Star guiding the wise menNow 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?’”(Matt 2:1-2).

They are odd witnesses to Jesus’ birth. We do not know what nation they came from. They are merely “wise men from the east”—some kind of astronomers and perhaps magicians—who have come to honor Jesus. What can we learn from the wise men?

They have a heart to understand the signs of the times. “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”(Matt 2:2). By carefully observing the skies, they know that something momentous has happened. This is notable because Jesus’ birth causes celestial events to occur and the heavenly host to praise God (Luke 2:13-14), yet the other Jews in Bethlehem do not even notice it. Later, Jesus roundly criticizes this lack of awareness of the times (Matt 16:1-4). While we may not observe the stars in the same way the wise men do, we need a willingness to observe what is happening in the world around us and its deeper spiritual significance.

They have a heart to honor Jesus. Not only do they know that a king has been born, but they “have come to worship him”(Matt 2:2), even bringing him treasure and gifts (Matt 2:11). They have traveled many miles because they firmly believe what they have seen and the power it reveals. Given their lack of understanding about Jesus, this willingness is all the more remarkable and instructive.

They have a heart to obey warnings from God. Herod has asked them to alert him when they find the child, yet “being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way”(Matt 2:12). They are more afraid of God than Herod. Even with far more information, we often struggle to truly take God’s warnings to heart.

The story of the wise men is strange and raises lots of questions. Yet it is clear that they have a heart that a lot of the Jewish leaders lack—the humility to understand, honor, and obey. Let’s develop that kind of heart!

Last modification: Wed 13 Feb 2019