Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. – Matthew 2:7-12
Forest Gump may be right: Stupid is as stupid does. But I am struck by the wisdom of the wisemen displayed in their actions recorded here:
- They seek Jesus – the “one born King of the Jews”.
- They worship Jesus with their bodies (bowing down) and their gifts.
- Warned in a dream they do not go back to Herod, but return home another way.
These wise actions may have been more political than religious. Their political considerations and decisions, however, betray a sensitivity to a deeper truth than the outward appearances of things. Herod appears to have all the power, but they are sensitive to things beyond outward appearances Their political savvy places them in alignment with the agenda of God’s rule and reign (the kingdom of God).
There is someone – seemingly much less powerful than the ruthless and powerful Herod – whose rule and reign they value. They are willing to go to great lengths to honor this newborn king.
Perhaps while they were in Bethlehem they inquired to learn more about him. Certainly their dream-warning triggered some further insight about the Child and the issues at stake in his birth and very existence. In the end, they simply return to their home by another way.
Life will go on, and they will not be mixed up in the political machinations of earthly kings. Their allegiance is to another; and that is the true mark of wisdom. Just as the object of our faith is what makes it strong, so the One to whom we give our allegiance marks the watershed of wisdom. Shall I fear Herod or God? True wisdom will lead us ever to fear, love and trust in God alone.