Research: Finding the Baby in Bethlehem

wiseresearchRemember when you looked desperately for something and eventually found it? Then what did you do? All of us are on a quest–a search for truth, meaning, and purpose in life. Where and how we look for truth is important, but what we do when we find it is vital! There are three “researchers” mentioned in Matt. 2:1-23: the magi, Herod, and the religious priests. They were all keen to investigate Jesus’ birth. Each of them analyzed their findings and responded to the results in a radically different way. Outlook determines outcome!

Humility: The magi, or wisemen, were Eastern philosophers, astronomers, and kingmakers. Theirs were brilliant minds, but they knew little about God’s promised Messiah. Providentially guided by a star that appeared in the East, they brought appropriate gifts in preparation to worship, having been assured that they would find the child. They traveled with yearning hearts all the way to Jerusalem, inquiring, “Where is he who is born King of the Jews?” Directed by Scripture and the star again, they found the child in a modest house, presented their gifts, and worshiped Jesus. They received the truth God revealed to them, responding with grateful adoration, and returned home another way (v. 12), their mission accomplished!

Hostility: Herod knew God was at work, believed his Word and didn’t doubt the magi would find the child. Notice he says, “when [not if] you find him” (v. 2). But he immediately became troubled, suspicious at the news of a new born king. Herod was an Idumean serving Rome and his primary interest was himself–his position, power, and prestige. In spite of efforts to please the Jews, many considered him a usurper, expecting a political Messiah to deliver them from Rome. All this threatened Herod since Christ’s coming revealed the throne was not his! So what did he do? Infuriated by the fact that the magi did not return, he sought to crush God’s plan. His evil pretensions soon became clear when he ordered the slaughter of every boy under two years of age in Bethlehem (v. 16).

Apathy: The priests and scribes were the third researchers. Upon consultation, these theological experts and leaders knew precisely where to find the prophecy of Jesus’ birth. Busy with their ceremonial laws and feeling full of themselves, they didn’t feel the need to examine who Jesus really was. They were so casual and careless about Christ’s coming that they didn’t even go downtown Bethlehem for some fieldwork. No, they didn’t oppose the child, though later they plotted his murder. For now, they didn’t feel the need for him and failed to apply God’s truth to themselves. thereby missing the whole point of the Law–to lead them to Christ. Acting with sheer indifference while within their comfort zone, they simply ignored him.

Research is exciting for the joy of discovery. All who seek God with all their heart will find him. God guides in many ways. At times by special means he makes his ways known. But he has clearly revealed his saving purposes in his written Word that abides forever. Like the wisemen, we must personally come to Christ to find that in him are all the treasures of God’s wisdom! God’s truth can be disturbing, so instead of accepting Christ, some, like Herod, end up rejecting him. Yet I feel that the greatest danger lies with the religious folk who are neglecting Jesus Christ–who He truly is (God’s Son) and what He came to do (save us from our sins). Let’s seek to find Jesus and commit to following him!

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One comment

  1. Dear Dr. Chris,

    I heard you deliver this message at the Indiranagar Methodist Church on Christmas eve. I was blessed by it. I intend taking a careful look at my life to find out what kind of researcher I am. There are times when I am caught up in a comfort zone. There are times of indifference and apathy. I pray that God will enable me to become receptive to His leading and to respond to the truth in the way He wants me to. Thank you, once again, for sharing the truth.

    Our greeting and wishes for a wonderful and blessed New Year to you and your family!

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