Matthew 2:1-12 – The Visit of the Wise Men
SummaryLed by a star, wise men come to worship this Messiah, but their arrival raises fears in Jerusalem and for King Herod.
AnalysisReference to Jesus' birth in Bethlehem once again marks his status as the son of David, while marvelous events continue to signal the hand of God. Wise men, whose precise character and origin remain mysterious, journey to Jerusalem led by a star that appears repeatedly in this brief story (2:2, 7, 9, 10). At its end they return home guided and protected by a dream. Ironically, the story juxtaposes "King Herod" with this one who is "born king." Though frightened by the prospect, it is still Herod who authorizes the inquiry that will reveal the birth in Bethlehem once again as fulfillment of prophecy. The prophetic description of this king as a shepherd certainly anticipates the humility and suffering of Jesus in Matthew's story, while Herod's instructions about "finding" and "bringing word" (2:8; the original word ironically means "announce good news") anticipate a similar "finding" and "telling good news" at Jesus' resurrection. Three times in the story the reference to "paying homage" (2:2, 8, 11; the original Greek word means "worship") is significant in its description and modeling of the first appropriate response to the birth of God's Messiah.