Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. (Matthew 2:2)

We see here heathen wisdom led by God to the cradle of Christ. It is futile to attempt to determine the nationality of the wise men. Possibly they were Persian magi, whose astronomy was half astrology and wholly observation, or they may have travelled from some places even deeper in the mysterious East; but, in any case, they were led by God through their science, such as it was. The great lesson which they teach remains the same, however subordinate questions about the nature of the star and the like may be settled. The sign in the heavens and its explanation were both of God, whether the one was a natural astronomical phenomenon or a supernatural light, and the other the conclusions of their science or the inbreathing of His wisdom.


Born King of the Jews—Not obtaining regal power by conquest or political craft, but appointed to his sovereignty by God, being king from his very birth.


The Kingdom was not ready for the King, so a reception for him was not arranged and organized by those who should have been waiting for him. They were in rebellion. The King’s advent was heralded by a star, and a few subject souls of a nation other than the chosen were guided by it to the King, and, notwithstanding the poverty of his earthly surroundings, they poured out their gifts—gold, frankincense and myrrh.


Jerusalem understood the Magi’s question perfectly. There was no doubt as to what king of the Jews was meant. The Magi, too, did not look upon Him as an ordinary ruler of the Jewish people; that aspect of Him would have had little or no appeal for them. But the new-born king concerned them, and when the star had announced his coming, they drew inference from the fact that they were to go and pay him their homage. He was the Son of David to whom the nations were promised as inheritance and the wide earth as his possession (Ps. 2:8).


King of the Jews—The title applied to the Messiah in the New Testament by Gentiles (27:29, 37; John 18:33), while the Jews themselves called him “King of Israel” (27:42; John 1:49; 12:13). After the downfall of the kingdom of the ten tribes, and particularly after the return from exile, the whole nation being merged in Judah, the name Jew became a general one, especially with foreigners, and is applied in the New Testament, not only to the people of Judea in the strict sense, but to those of Galilee, in reference both to their religion and their national descent (Luke 7:3; John 2:6; Acts 10:28).… As the throne of David had been vacant now for ages, the inquiry of the wise men had respect not to the actual sovereign, who was not an Israelite at all, but to the hereditary rightful sovereign who had just been born.

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In what way might the minds of the Magi be led to connect the appearance of the star with the birth of the King of the Jews? We are not told, and we need not pry. But we learn from verse 12 that God was in supernatural communication with them; and thus the greatest difficulties are removed. Most likely they were pious men, whose minds had ascended from nature to nature’s God.


Doubtless, the sages found many obstacles in their way; but they persisted to the end; and never ceased from their labour, till they had found Him whom they sought. Thus, let us resolutely seek the Lord Jesus, till we have found Him. He is pointed out to us, not by a star, but by “the more sure word of the Gospel.”


Doubtless, these Magi, whatever outward phenomenon or luminous substance they saw in the air, had some express revelation, that the bright object portended the great light of the world. A tradition might have informed them, that a Star was to arise out of Jacob, and that its splendid rays would peculiarly be shed over the land of Israel; but it was some better light only which could have pointed them to its great antitype, Jesus, and induced them to worship him with divine adoration, in a stable, in the lowest poverty, and appearing with all the littleness and inability of a babe.


Be our sins never so many for number, never so heinous for nature, never so full for measure; yet the mercy of God may give us a star, that shall bring us, not to the babe Jesus in a manger, but to Christ a king in his throne.


If the sight of a star had so powerful an effect on the Magi, woe to our insensibility, who, now that Christ the King has been revealed to us, are so cold in our inquiries after him!



The wise men were not content with having “seen his star,” they must see himself; and, seeing they must adore. These were not in doubt as to his Godhead: they said, “We are come to worship him.” Lord, I pray thee, make all wise men to worship thee!

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Observe their faith: they come to the priests made acquainted with the oracles of God, to inquire of this King. The priests resolve the place of his birth from the prophet; but though told of his star, they will not stir a foot towards him. Perhaps it might cost them their honours or lives by the king’s displeasure; therefore they will point others, but disappoint their own souls. Truth guides the magicians, unbelief blinds the priests. They that were used to necromantic spells and charms begin to understand the truth of a Saviour; while they that had him in their books lost him in their hearts.


The question assumes as certain that the birth has taken place; ho textheis, the aorist passive participle, is for the past fact. The Greek is content with this, not indicating that the fact occurred quite recently. “King of Jews” may recall to us the superscription on the cross, also Nathanael’s exclamation: “King of Israel” (John 1:49). “King” is one of the Old Testament Messianic titles, and that the Messiah would reign was every Jew’s expectation. “King of the Jews” marks these Chaldeans or “wise men” as Gentiles, though it betrays nothing of the source from which they drew this title.


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