One of the well known parts of the Christmas story is the visit of the Wise Men to see the new born Messiah. These men were likely from Persia and they arrived when Jesus was around 2 years old. They were looking for “He who has been born King of the Jews.” As they followed a miraculous star, they came to Jerusalem—a very natural place to look for the King of the Jews. But when Herod, the current king of the Jews, heard what they were looking for he got very agitated.
So Herod gathered together the chief priests and scribes to find out where the Messiah was prophesied to be born. They correctly quoted from the prophet Micah that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. It is very interesting to note how those involved in this story responded to this information.
Herod found out from the Wise Men that the star had appeared to them about two years earlier. He asked the Wise Men to report back to him when they had found the Child because he wanted to worship him. Liar. His intention was to have this perceived challenger to his throne killed. When Herod was unsuccessful with the Wise Men, he proceeded to have all the male children two years and younger, who were in the vicinity of Bethlehem, to be slaughtered. So Herod’s response to the news of the Messiah was hostile unbelief. Some still respond to Christ that way today.
The Wise Men made their way to Bethlehem and found the Child with Mary and Joseph. They proceeded to give Him gifts and bow to Him in worship. By God’s grace, many still respond to Christ that way today.
What about the chief priests and scribes? They also heard about the amazing report of the Wise Men. They gave Herod the information he needed to understand better the facts about the birthplace of the Messiah. What did they do then? Nothing. They were completely apathetic. They apparently went about their business while the Wise Men worshipped and Herod killed innocent baby boys. They did nothing. They were not even the least bit curious about what the Wise Men had to say.
This is a terrible and dangerous response. The Persian Wise Men would have little or no access to the Word of God. They likely heard of the Messiah from Jews living in their area. Herod was an Idumean—not a Jew. He was appointed as king over Judah by the Roman authority. He was a politician and would have had a natural aversion to one called the King of the Jews. But the chief priests and scribes were different. They were not only Jews, they were the religious leaders of the Jews. They were intimately acquainted with the Scriptures and had much of it memorized. They would have been taught from childhood of the promises of the Messiah. Of all people you would think they would at least show some interest in what the Wise Men were saying. But they had more important things to do, so they ignored reports of the coming of the One who could save them from their sin.
You might think being apathetic about the coming of the Messiah would not be as bad as what Herod did. But in time their apathy morphed into something more dangerous. When Jesus began His public ministry, the religious leaders lead the opposition to Him. Their unbelief became so hostile that they turned Jesus over to the Roman authorities to be crucified.
No one can remain apathetic toward Jesus Christ. The one who is Savior and Lord requires a response. It isn’t just kings and religious leaders who resist His lordship—we all do. So beware of an apathetic Christmas. Emulate the Wise Men who responded to the new born king with worship. Merry Christmas.
Mac Williams is the Pastor at Two Rivers Community Church which is located at 3400 Little York Road. He can be reached at 898-2824 or visit the church’s website at www.tworiverscc.org.