Day 26

Wise Men Visit the King

Matthew 2:1-23, Jeremiah 31:15-20

BY Kaitlin Wernet

My dad loves to tell the story of how, when I was a little girl, he asked me to pick out a new figurine to accompany Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus in my mom’s Christmas nativity scene. As the story goes, I overlooked the shepherds and wise men to choose a barnyard cat. It’s funny what happens when it’s up to flawed humans to prepare for the arrival of a perfect King.

However, some people are quick to point out that the wise men don’t really belong in our nativity scenes anymore than my barnyard cat does. And Matthew indicates that they didn’t arrive until some two years after Jesus’s birth (see Matthew 2:16). He wasn’t a babe in a manger when they got to Bethlehem; He was a toddler. But these wise men from the east belong in our Christmas stories all the same, because Jesus came for the whole world.

After arriving in Jerusalem, the wise men were sent by King Herod to inspect the Christ child. It’s difficult to pinpoint their exact occupations, but some theologians believe they were court magicians who served as priests, perhaps from Persia or Babylon. While we may not know exactly who these men were, it’s easy to assume they weren’t being sent by Herod to worship the boy. Herod’s plan was to kill the Christ child. He wanted the wise men to follow the star, find the young King in Bethlehem, and report back promptly so that he could carry out his plan. But that’s not what happened at all. In fact, quite the opposite occurred:

When they saw the star, they were overwhelmed with joy. Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by another route (Matthew 2:10–12).

They didn’t return to Herod. Theologian Matthew Henry calls this series of events “an early instance and presage of Christ’s victory over the devil” as the men, some of Jesus’s earliest devotees, became “wise men indeed when they set themselves to enquire after the Christ.”

This is what happens when imperfect people witness the divine nature of Christ. By His light, we are rerouted, never to be the same again. The Messiah in the manger was not the sort of king God’s people had expected. Nevertheless, He was the Father’s plan to change the course of humanity, and ultimately, rescue the hearts and souls of all who would believe in Him. May we do the same. May we turn to Jesus and worship Him with undivided hearts. May we follow the only God who is truly wise (Romans 16:27). Amen.

Post Comments (50)

50 thoughts on "Wise Men Visit the King"

  1. Sue says:

    For those of you who have replied to someone’s comment would you be willing to share what device you used to do this.

    Since the website change, I have been unable to reply to specific comments from either my iphone or home computer.

    1. Tara Cole says:


  2. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I’m reminded that God’s will and plan prevails, even when the devil tries to destroy it.

  3. Sarah Jenkins says:

    The timeline really stood out to me. Mary & Joseph were in Nazareth at the time of Mary’s pregnancy. Joseph had to take Mary with him to Bethlehem for the census because that’s where his royal bloodline was from. Once Jesus was born they got or went to a house ( possibly inherited by Joseph) and lived there until Jesus was a toddler. This is where the star led the wise men. Then Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Egypt. They stayed here until Herod’s death….which was approximately 2 years or more. Then they finally went to live in Galilee, a region within the city of Nazareth. Everywhere they went was because God told them to go. It’s really neat to see how Spirit-led (actually angel-led through dreams) and obedient Joseph and Mary were.

  4. Ashley White says:

    This story really spoke to me. I feel myself growing closer to Christ everyday that I read these devotions. I had no idea that the wisemen were sent by Herod. No idea and I’m blown away by this finding!!

  5. Courtney Johnson says:

    Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the gentile.” That is why I like to see the wise men and the shepherds in the Nativity scene. First, the Israelite shepherds visited and shared the story. Then the wise men from the East came. Both sets of men travelled a distance to get there and had a distance to return where they were able to share what they say with anyone they encountered along the way. Jews and gentiles. Jesus is for all peoples.

  6. Stephanie Basham says:

    What beautiful passages and devotional to read first thing in the morning! Wise men truly do still seek him…

  7. Dee Wilcox says:

    I think there are three groups of people in this story: those who recognized the new King and worshipped, those who recognized him and were threatened, and those who didn’t recognize him at all. I don’t ever want to be like this third group, indifferent to the Savior, too focused on the busyness and business of daily life to recognize and worship the King, but I know that I too often do just that.

  8. Diana Degnan says:

    Such an eye opening read!

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