In our Bible study, this week, we focussed on the second chapter of the book of Matthew. You may know of this chapter as being part of the Christmas story. In Matthew 1, we are told the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah - from Abraham to Joseph. “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.” (Matt 1:17) Briefly, in verses 18-25, Matthew explains that Mary, the chosen mother of Jesus was found to be pregnant, although she and Joseph were not yet married and had not yet come together. The pregnancy was through the Holy Spirit. Following the instructions from an angel, they do not consummate their marriage until after the baby is born, and they call him Jesus.
Matthew 2 begins, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
So, about that star - from how far did the Magi travel? Why didn’t Herod notice the star? The Bible does not tell us exactly how many miles the Magi traveled, but we know they were from a land east of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and the gifts they brought - gold, frankincense, and myrrh - were products of Arabia, so that was likely their home. This trip would have been anywhere from 400 to 700 miles. They may have come on foot, or they may have ridden on the backs of camels. The trip would have taken 2 to 6 weeks.
We read in Matthew 2:7-8, “Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’” It appears that Herod, had not noticed the star, himself, although it was closer to him than it was the Magi. According to Google, the distance from Jerusalem to Bethlehem is 5.52 miles. This means the Magi were almost there when they stopped to speak with Herod. Herod did not go with them, but sent them along, and requested that they return and tell him the location of the young king. “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.” (v.16) The star could have been there for two years!
Why didn’t Herod notice the star? Why didn’t Herod go to worship the newborn king who was only a short distance away? The simple answer is that he did not want to. He chose to ignore the light. Luke’s gospel tells us, “8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” Could it have been the light of the star that made it possible to keep watch over their flocks - at night? Being that the star was the sign God, the Creator of the universe determined would be His sign to all of the world, that His one and only Son was born, it had to be unimaginably bright - so bright that it would not easily go unnoticed.
We are all given free will. God gives us the right to choose for ourselves how we will live, and what we will believe. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Rev. 3:20) Jesus does not force us to believe in Him. He makes himself available. It must be our choice to believe. Salvation is a free gift, given only to those who choose to believe.
Jesus is not far away. You don’t have to travel 500 miles on foot. He is here, right now, waiting for someone reading this blog, to make their decision. Don’t you see His star? Don’t you hear His knock? He is waiting for someone, today, to make the decision to have their sins forgiven and have everlasting life. 2020 is not promised. You have held out long enough. Make today the day you receive your salvation.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Amen! Merry Christmas to all!
If this post was not for you, please share it with someone who needs to take notice of the light.
The Bible study I referred to is an online Bible study though a
Facebook group called Educators in the Word (Rock Hill). In
January we will begin with Matthew 3, it is not too late to join us!
I am a wife, mother, educator, and author who, between other duties, enjoys writing. My name is actually Kimberly Griffith Massey. In this blog, I will share some sighting of God's light each week.
Author Photo by
Heather G. Rollings, 2017
Cover photo by Carlton Griffith Photography