In life, we are often faced with choices about which path to follow. People can give us a lot of advice on which choice to make, but some of this advice can steer us down the wrong path. Sometimes people with malicious intent can seem well-meaning and authentic, but their true motive is to deceive for their own personal gain.
Discernment is key to sorting through advice from others. In Matthew 2, the magi arrive in Jerusalem and ask, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him (verse 2)?” King Herod, hearing about this, asks the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah is to be born and they tell him Bethlehem (3-6). Yet Herod still doesn’t know where in Bethlehem.
The magi have followed God’s lead in search of the Messiah. They have come to Jerusalem hoping to find Him there. Now King Herod calls them to a secret meeting. “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” The first sign of trouble here is that Herod meets secretly with the magi. He doesn’t want anyone else hear him say that he wants to worship the child. He wants the magi to think that he is onboard with them, yet he doesn’t go with them. These are warning signs.
Seemingly well intentioned people telling you things in secret should make you suspicious. Why are they only telling you and not sharing it in public or with others? Also, when someone tells you in secret they want to join you in your pursuit, be curious as to why they are only telling this to you. Try to look below the surface at their real intent and proceed with caution.
After listening to Herod, “they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was (9).” The magi continue to follow God’s guidance, rejoicing in seeing the star (10). When they found Jesus, “they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (11).” Despite being magi, they humble themselves before Jesus and offer gifts. They remain reverent and open to hearing God.
It is this attitude of seeking God, of laying down their pride and position, that makes them open to hearing God and following His advice. “And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way (12).” Because of their heart toward God, their humble desire to seek Him, they know they should ignore Herod’s deceit and follow God’s advice. What makes the magi wise is their faith in God and their desire to pursue the Messiah.
© 2023, Chris G. Thelen