Purpose: To show that coming as the heavenly king, everyone must respond to Jesus. We either worship him or reject him.
The contrasts between Jesus and Herod are striking. Jesus was completely Jewish; Herod was of a mixed race. Jesus was sent by God; Herod was placed on the throne by the Romans. Jesus was to be shepherd of Israel; Herod was an exploiter of Israel. Herod took the lives of children to keep his
throne; Jesus gave up his life so that the throne might be given to him. Herod “occupied” the Jewish capitol; Jesus was born in King David’s city.
There are many legends about the Magi, in later church tradition they are even given names. Study of the ancient near-eastern culture suggests that they were astrologers who attempted to tell the future by looking at the stars. However, from this passage, there is not a great deal that we know about them. What is important to note is that these foreigners are able to find out about his birth and come to celebrate him, thus establishing that Jesus’ birth has international significance.
Help group members recall ways in which an interest in God has affected the books they have read, the friends they have chosen, the church they attend.
People may have feelings of disappointment with God. This can be confusing because God’s character is trust worthy. However, our expectations can lead us to expect God to act in our behalf in ways that are not actually consistent with his character. This leads to a feeling that God has let us down.
Jesus is not welcomed by the established authorities of the Jewish world. He is welcomed by the foreign Magi. The religious leaders did not seek out the place of Jesus’ birth and were not looking to welcome him.
Herod was the first of many authority figures who wished to put Jesus to death. Not being a full-blooded Jew, he had reason to fear one “born King of the Jews.”
Someone once said that “God is obvious by his absence and his silence is the loudest noise in the universe.” In this passage God is active in every single thing that happens, but is seldom mentioned.