Christmas is only 5 days away! We’ve talked about John the Baptist and his parents, Mary, Joseph, the angel Gabriel, the shepherds, Simeon, Anna and of course, Jesus himself. Who are we missing? The wise men! Or as they are called in this translation, the Magi.
We are not adding anything to our memory verse, which is a good thing for us over here because we’ve gotten a little lazy with it. The only one still sticking with it is my 6-year-old and that’s okay. We all benefit from hearing it daily!
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when 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.’”Matthew 2:1-6, NIV
What do you teach them?
Here’s what I tell my kids:
- Do you remember in a lesson near the beginning when the name Herod came up and I said to remember him? No? Okay, it was a while ago. Well, here he is in our story today.
- Herod was the king of Judea. Well, he wasn’t exactly what we might think of as a king, because as we learned a few lessons ago, the real ruler was Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor. Herod was a king who promised to be faithful to Rome so Caesar Augustus let him be in charge of Judea on his behalf.
- Hearing the name Herod in the Bible can be confusing because more than one of the kings of Judea called himself by that name. In fact, there was a whole family that is referred to as “the Herodians.” The Herodians were bad news. Their family past-times were murder, greed, lust and power-seeking. This Herod was no different!
- While Herod was king, some Magi came from the east. We get the words “magic” and “magician” from the word Magi. These men may not have been into magic, but we do know that they were astronomers and astrologers. Astronomers and astrologers study the stars, the sun, the moon, the planets, and other things in the sky.
- The Magi asked Herod where they could find “the king of the Jews.” They had been studying the sky and they had seen a bright star. They used their astrology and came to the conclusion that the star was a sign about a great king for the Israelites. At this time the Israelites are often now called Jews. The Magi may have even known that the Jewish people were waiting for their savior and that this was who the star was leading them to.
- The Magi assumed that since Herod was now the leader of the Jews under the Romans that he would know all about the true king coming. They probably thought that he would be very happy. Maybe this new king could even free Judea from the Romans. They told Herod that they came to worship this new king.
- Regardless of whether or not the Magi understood how important this new king would be, one thing is for sure, Herod knew exactly what the star was telling them.
- The Magi were very wrong about one thing though. Herod was not at all happy to hear about this new king, the Messiah. In fact, a lot of people in Jerusalem were not happy about it.
- Herod called together his priests and counselors, men who were experts on scripture. He asked them where the Messiah was supposed to be born. They told him Bethlehem.
- These scripture experts even told Herod a quote from the Bible. The prophet Micah said that a ruler would come out a Bethlehem. This ruler would be a shepherd for God’s people. (Micah 5:2)
- Herod believed the Magi when they said they had seen the Messiah’s star. He believed them enough to be worried that the new king might threaten his power and wealth. He believed them enough to ask his counselors to find out where this Messiah might be. He even believed that what scripture said about the Messiah was true. If he didn’t believe it then why would he turn to scripture to learn more about this Messiah? If he didn’t believe it then why would he be so concerned?
- All of Herod’s wealth and power was given to him by the Romans. He did not want some Jewish savior to come and take it all away! What would Herod do about it?
- Now we close our study with a prayer.