The magi had come to pay their respects to the newborn King of the Jews. Herod immediately sought information on the birthplace of the Christ (messiah). He evidently knew that only the birth of the messiah could produce such a great interest and respect. Did he really believe that he could thwart the prophecies of the coming king? He possibly considered them to be fables, choosing to believe that this was a setup, another attempt to take his throne. Perhaps he believed that someone was attempting to fake the birth of the messiah. Whether he believed that he could thwart the plans of God by killing the newborn messiah, or whether he believed that it is all a sham perpetuated to topple his own throne, it resulted not in worship, but in a failed assassination attempt. There seem to be three responses to the news of the newborn king. First is that of Herod, “Go and make careful search ... that I too may come and worship him.” But Herod’s motive was less than pure. He actually intended to kill the child. Second, there was the response of the religious elite, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet.” There was no attempt on their part to follow up on the news and seek the child. Theirs appears to have been a response of intellectual interest only. They knew the scriptures and they were content with that. God was a tame God who had spoken in the past and that was that. They were happy in their elitist theology. Finally, there was the response of the magi, “We have come to worship.”
Worship begins when we acknowledge the authority of the one we worship. If Herod acknowledged the authority of Christ it would threaten his throne, therefore he attacked. If the religious elite acknowledged the authority of Christ it would threaten their comfortable spiritual pride, therefore they ignored him. The magi, in acknowledging the authority of Christ traveled difficult and dangerous miles over several months for the privilege of bowing before him and presenting their gifts.
What is our response? Have we sided with Herod, choosing our own comfort over the rule of the true king? Perhaps we have fallen into the error of the elite. We know the scriptures. We understand our theology. “Now don’t shake up my comfortable religiosity with talk about a king. That could result in spiritual awakening, revival and real, heart worship. It might get uncomfortable; it might make demands on my life. Just leave me to my theology and I’m happy.” Or, have we come, with the magi, to worship the Christ?