1 Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the time when Herod was king. Soon afterward, some men who studied the stars came from the East to Jerusalem
2 and asked, "Where is the baby born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star when it came up in the east, and we have come to worship him."
3 When King Herod heard about this, he was very upset, and so was everyone else in Jerusalem.
4 He called together all the chief priests and the teachers of the Law and asked them, "Where will the Messiah be born?"
5 "In the town of Bethlehem in Judea," they answered. "For this is what the prophet wrote:
6 'Bethlehem in the land of Judah, you are by no means the least of the leading cities of Judah; for from you will come a leader who will guide my people Israel.' "
(Good News Bible)
It is evident from reading this history, that God had invited these scholarly Wise Men to be witnesses of the fact that the Saviour of the world had arrived on planet earth.
However, in this part of the history, we also meet some other people who were evidently NOT invited to the celebration: these people were merely informed that the Saviour had arrived!
We must admit, there's a great difference between being invited to an event, and merely being informed that it has taken place.
When we read the story with our hindsight, we understand that the Lord used the Wise Men's blunder to inform both King Herod and the religious establishment of the day, that He had indeed sent the Messiah.
The Wise Men saw at once that this was most unwelcome news in Jerusalem. Here we meet the leaders of the religious establishment: those the Bible calls the Chief Priests and Teachers of the Law. We are told that they were upset at the news that the Messiah had been born.
Why was this?
God had gone to great lengths several generations earlier, through the patriarch Moses to establish the priesthood, through Moses' brother, Aaron, who was the first Jewish High Priest.
The priests knew and taught the scriptures to the people. They knew all the prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah.
Therefore their expectation was God would not send the Messiah without the priests paying a prominent role in an event of such national significance.
Yet, if these foreign star-gazers were to be believed, THEY - and not the Priests - had been the ones who had been told that the Messiah had arrived.
The ancient people of God - and particularly the Chief Priests - would have regarded the Wise Men as non-Jewish dogs!
How was it possible that non-Jewish dogs could know that the Messiah had arrived, when the Chief Priests of God's own people had been left in the dark?!
So, of course they were upset and offended!
However, there was a reason why God did not let these Chief Priests lead the procession at the birth of His Messiah.
The priests for the most part were legalists and politicians, instead of devoting their lives to the service of God, as they had been called to do.
If He had given this wonderful news to the religious leaders, God knew they would not have responded with faith and rejoicing. They would have instead examined the news from a legal standpoint, and rejected it.
They would have questioned God's unorthodox method of using an very-recently-married young woman to bring forth His Son.
They would have been totally shocked by the stinky manger as a cradle!
Nothing in this was PROPER or orderly enough for the mind-set of the Chief Priests.
They had God in their own box and they were utterly unbelieving that He would even dare to disagree with them and step out of their box.
All these thoughts are echoed in the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus some 30 years later, recorded in the third chapter of John's Gospel: Jesus says:
8 You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it's headed next. That's the way it is with everyone 'born from above' by the wind of God, the Spirit of God." (Message Bible)
The Chief Priests held on, not only to their mind-set, but also to their unbelief.
When Jesus began His public ministry about 30 years later, these religious experts judged him by their own box of standards:
He came from the wrong city, Nazareth of Galilee. (They never managed to discover that He was indeed born in Bethlehem, as the scriptures said He would be!)
He was not a graduate of their accepted schools. (They did not know that He was the precocious twelve-year-old who had been discussing deep questions with them years earlier in the Temple.)
He did not have the official approval of the people in power. (But He certainly had the approval of God - the ultimate power!)
He had no wealth. (They had no clue that He had given up the riches of heaven, in order to limit Himself to the human condition.)
His followers were a nondescript mob and included publicans and sinners. (They didn't understand that God was looking into human hearts and responds easily to faith He found there!)
Therefore, the Chief Priests rejected Him!
help me to be able to walk with You in such a way that I see where the wind of the Holy Spirit is blowing, and I don't get left out of what You are doing.
If there are any “Chief Priest” attitudes in me,
teach me how to fall out of agreement with these backward mind-sets, so I am open to Your wonderful love for me.
I ask this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.