Becoming True Worshippers Like the Magi

The use of a Nativity scene as a Christmas reminder of Christ’s birth originated about 800 years ago from Frances of Assisi. As Christmas decoration, this scene sometimes depicts various people and animals. The actual scene revealed in the Bible shows that someone was conspicuously absent: the religious leaders of the Jews, the very ones who should have been seeking and joyous of Christ’s arrival.

Seekers of the King

Matthew emphasizes it was the non-Jews who were there at Jesus’ birth to welcome Him with gifts (v. 11). These non-Jews, the Magi, were astronomers and studied the stars to see when Jesus would arrive. They knew the King of the Jews was to be born and were asking where and when should He be born. The Magi, from another land and another people, were seeking the King because they knew He would be a Divine person. They came with gifts and left empty-handed because they were only seeking to worship Him.

The Magi assumed the Jews would also be seeking and aware of the timing. They went on their journey expecting to get answers about the whereabouts of Jesus.

They were a foreshadow of other future unlikely followers of Jesus, like the Roman centurion who believed Jesus could heal with just a word and the Canaanite woman whose faith made her child well. They and many of Jesus’ followers were not among the religious elite and scholars, but showed simple faith when they truly believed in Who He is.

Seekers of Self

The religious leaders were driven to adhere to a checklist. Their goals were to control the people, not based on what God’s plans were for Israel or for humanity. Therefore they didn’t investigate or seek the timing of Jesus’ birth.

Matthew shows several incidents when the leaders don’t marvel or celebrate at the miracles Jesus brings. (See Matthew 12.) Instead, they plot to kill him. The chief priests are even aware that Jesus points them out as opposing God in various parables, and John even calls them brood of vipers! They were not true worshippers; they were apathetic seekers of self. This is why the leaders of the people were not there at the Nativity scene.

Let’s rejoice that the magi are examples of God’s desire for all people to come to Him. Thank the Lord for including you in this plan, and carry on as true worshippers.

Application Points

  • It is possible to have accurate doctrine and still be spiritually bankrupt. God does not simply want our heads to be filled with data about a scene from 2000 years ago. Your desire when it comes to the Bible should not be merely to absorb knowledge in order to show yourself to be right. God wants to change you into the likeness of His Son, Jesus. Let your desire be to persevere in obedience to Him.
  • Remember what we had to bring Jesus when we first came to Him? Consider what you were like when you first came to Christ: a sinner bound for Hell. We should never forget who we used to be when we came to Christ. Regardless of if we are Jew or Gentile, God included us if we have acknowledged that Jesus is our only way to heaven, asked in repentance for forgiveness of our sins, and allowed Jesus to be Lord over our life.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore:
  • Matthew 3
  • Matthew 8
  • Matthew 9 - Matthew was a tax collector
  • Matthew 15
  • Matthew 27:54 - the centurion witnesses who Jesus is
  • Matthew 28 - the women were the first witnesses
  • Micah 5:2
  • Matthew 12:14 - the leaders plot to kill Jesus
  • Matthew 7 - warning of false prophets
  • Matthew 23 - Jesus proclaims woes against the leaders
  • Matthew 21:23-32 - parable of the two sons