Bible Insights

The King of the Jews

The Magi Visit Jesus

Matthew 2:1–2

“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2)

Now let’s focus on the Magi who come to visit Jesus. Matthew is the only writer in Scripture who mentions them.

First, we must dispel some common misconceptions that come to us from the classic Christmas carol “We Three Kings” (also known as “We Three Kings of Orient Are”).

The opening line of the song calls them kings, says there are three, and says they traveled from the Orient. Though we don’t want to altogether dismiss this beloved song, we must acknowledge that none of these facts are biblical.

Scripture says that the Magi, also called wisemen or astrologers in various translations, come from the East in search of Jesus. It doesn’t say how many Magi there are, but it does say that as a group they bring three gifts.

Though they could have come from the Orient, they more likely hail from Persia. Either way, they have traveled a long distance to find Jesus.

The Magi’s interest in Jesus, the King of the Jews, is perplexing.

Their explanation is simply that they saw a new star in the sky and came to worship the birth of the king that the star represented. It’s easy to see these wise men studying the stars in the night skies and noticing one they’d never seen before.

We can assume they either follow a commonly held assumption or they search ancient texts to conclude the new star represents the birth of the king.

There’s no hint in Matthew’s text that they have any Jewish connection or even any knowledge of the God revealed in Scripture. Yet they set out on a long journey in complete faith that a king has been born—a king of great significance.

They intend to find him, worship him, and give him gifts.

As they follow the star, they reach Jerusalem, the political and religious center of the area. They seek out King Herod, likely reasoning that the baby—the King of the Jews—is his.

Or at least he would know where they can find the child. But it turns out the Magi have made a false assumption about where to find Jesus.

What false assumptions might we hold about Jesus?

How can we embrace Jesus as the King of the Jews and the Savior of everyone else too?

Prayer: Father, show us how we can pursue Jesus with the same passion as the Magi. May we find him, worship him, and give him our gifts.

[This devotional is taken from the January 3 reading from The Advent of Jesus.]

Celebrate Christmas in a fresh way with The Advent of Jesus. It’s a forty-day devotional that prepares our hearts to celebrate the arrival of Jesus in an engaging read. Begin your Advent journey now and gain a greater sense of wonder for the season.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

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