1 Now Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the days of Herod the king; and magi, from the east, arrived in Jerusalem.
Bethlehem = the house of bread
Judea = he shall be praised
Jerusalem = double peace; legacy of peace;
perfect city or city of Him who is perfect
Herod = hero
King Herod reigned as King of Judea for 37 years, dying in possibly March or April of 4 BC (according to the Jewish historian Josephus).
Therefore, the birth of Jesus must have taken place sometime around 6 or 7 BC.
Herod was a ruler who undertook a lot of monumental building works such as temples (both for false gods and also the rebuilding in Jerusalem of the temple of God); amphitheatres; harbours; hippodromes etc. He also instituted the import of grain from Egypt during a time of severe drought.
However, he was also a king with an excessive suspicion of the motives of others (Paranoia), especially the members of his own family. Many of these he suspected of plotting to kill him in order to seize his throne. This may have been born out of the fact that he was married ten times. A recipe for family intrigue!
It was during his reign that Jesus, the King of kings, was born.
The magi (wise men – magician is derived from this word) could have been Babylonian priests of the Zoroastrian religion. They were probably well educated in astrology, since they navigated themselves to Jerusalem via the star that appeared to them in the east.
The word ‘behold’ is an expression of surprise.
Matthew expresses amazement that some of the first worshippers of Jesus should be people who are not Jews, God’s own people.
There is an echo of this in John 1.11:
11 He came to His own people, but His own people did not receive Him.
We may also be surprised at who are the true worshippers of God. He has His true worshippers in places that we might not consider looking, and we might be as surprised as Matthew was.
Jesus came into the world because God so loved the world and it is from the wider world that the magi come. Still God draws the world to Himself for the purpose of worship.
The magi travelled a great distance in order to bring their gifts, and worship Jesus, the new born king.
Spiritually, how far are we prepared to go in worshipping Jesus? Are we prepared to remove any obstacles that would prevent us from worshipping Him?
Today let our hearts be softened by the Holy Spirit to worship God in spirit and in truth.