Wicked Men and Wise Men (Matthew 2:1–12)

There are many words we could use to describe Jesus’s birth: miraculous, humble, anticipated, needed, epic, joyful, and merciful. But one word we cannot use is secretive. The coming of Jesus was not classified, hidden, or undisclosed. It was unmistakable, being both predicted before it happened and announced after it happened. And, ultimately, that leaves all people without excuse. The revelation of Jesus Christ puts all people to a decision: will we respond with rejection or adoration?


There are many words we could use to describe Jesus’s birth: miraculous, humble, anticipated, needed, epic, joyful, and merciful. But one word we cannot use is secretive. The coming of Jesus was not classified, hidden, or undisclosed. It was unmistakable, being both predicted before it happened and announced after it happened.

Consider the opening two verses of the chapter. [2:1–2] There’s a lot we don’t know about the magi. But, what we do know is that, somehow, they knew a king had been predicted and “his star in the east” was his birth announcement. 

And the magi weren’t the only ones. [2:3–6] Herod was disturbed by this threat to his throne and, because Herod was crazy, the people were disturbed that Herod was disturbed! He calls for Israel’s leaders and asks them where this supposed king was supposedly to be born. 

Without hesitation, they say, “Bethlehem.” They know that because God, through the prophet, Micah, had said so. There are also Moses, Nathan, David, Job, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea, Zechariah, and Malachi who all add their predictive voices.

The birth of King Jesus had been predicted before it happened. The magi knew it, Israel knew it, and even Herod knew it. 

But it was also announced after it happened. We heard this morning about angels and shepherds declaring the good news of Jesus’s arrival. In Matthew 2, the star in the sky declares it. [2:2, 7, 9, 10]

God wanted people to know of his Son’s birth. It wasn’t a secret. It was predicted before it happened and announced after it happened.

And nothing has changed. God still wants people to know of his Son. He sent prophets to predict it before it happened and now sends his church to announce it after it’s happened. 


The issue isn’t one of revelation but of reaction. Jesus has been unveiled, the question becomes, how will we respond to him? Matthew 2 illustrates the only two possibilities there are. The first is rejection. People can, and do, respond to Jesus with rejection. 

Take Herod, for example. He hears of Jesus’s birth, is terrified, and immediately goes into recon mode to gather intel on this potential threat. He summoned (v. 4) “the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law.” [2:7–8]

Now, by “worship” Herod means something more like “kill.” We know this because of [2:12]. Herod responds to the revelation of Jesus’s birth with fear-fuelled, malicious rejection

But he’s not alone. The people of Israel also responded with rejection. In speaking with crazy King Herod, Israel’s leaders betray the fact that they knew the messianic prophecies. They had studied them well enough to know exactly where the King was to be born. But did they show up in Bethlehem for the baby shower? Not one of them.

A mentor once told me: “Josiah, 80% of ministry is showing up.” In other words, your presence declares your care more than your mouth can. And, in the case of Israel’s religious leaders, their absence around their King’s crib revealed the state of their hearts.

While their rejection of Jesus was different than Herod’s rejection of Jesus, it was still a rejection, a hard-hearted, knowing rejection. They had the information and claimed they were looking for Messiah, but they didn’t follow the star.

And, again, nothing has changed. People still reject Jesus—who he is, what he did, and what he offers. And they do it for countless reasons and with countless motivations. But, ultimately, the type of rejection matters very little, because it’s all still rejection.


Thankfully, rejection isn’t the only potential response to Jesus. There’s also adoration. People can, and do, respond to Jesus with adoration. 

Here’s where we return to the magi, these travelling star-gazers who exemplify this response. They heard and believed a king was coming and, seeing the star, set out to find him. [2:2, 9–10] Notice their reaction: this isn’t mere satisfaction or relief. This is an uncontainable, life-altering celebration. [2:11] 

Why did the magi travel to find this king? Was it to satisfy curiosity or confirm suspicions? Was it to be trailblazers or adventurers? Was it to better their lives or make a name for themselves? No. It was to worship him. They found him, they bowed to him, and they honoured him. What a contrast to the rejection of Herod and Israel. These magi responded to Jesus with joy-filled, sacrificial adoration.

And, still today, when someone comes to realize who Jesus is and what he did for them, adoration is the only appropriate response.

The Bible is clear: we’re sinners hopelessly separated from God. But Jesus Christ, the Son of God, condescended from heaven to this sin-stained world, suffered rejection, hatred, and torture, and, though he knew no sin, died the death of a sinner—in our place, condemned he stood—all to reconcile us to our Creator, to give us an everlasting life we don’t deserve, if we would only respond to him in faith. When we grasp that, we adore him. 

When we realize that we are heirs in an eternal kingdom, we adore him. When we understand the fact that there’s “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” and that we’re saved eternally by grace through faith, we adore him.

You see, among other things, the account of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, his coming to earth as a baby to save sinners, puts all people to a choice. Will you respond to him with rejection or adoration? Will we stand with fear-fuelled Herod and hard-hearted Israel or with the joy-filled magi? Will we stand with the wise men or the wicked men?

The promised messianic King was born and his life, death, resurrection, and ascension have been made known. All that remains is to respond.

Let’s pray together. 

Father in heaven, we thank you that you are a Creator who wants to be known by his creation and that you’ve gone to great lengths to reveal yourself. So much so that, as Paul writes, we “are without excuse”; a response to your Son is demanded. And, as your word has reminded us today, there are only two possibilities: rejection and adoration. 

Help us, God, to be a people of the latter—to respond to you this Advent season, and maybe because of this Advent season, with faith, worship, sacrifice, love, and humility. You are worthy of that and so much more.

We adore you, Lord Jesus, for your coming, living, dying, rising, ascending, and saving. We also adore you, Lord Jesus, for your soon return and reign. Keep us soft-hearted and watchful, we pray. Amen.

Please be seated. Before I close with a benediction, I want to bring a few announcements to your attention.

  • Lively Oaks Date’s change. Lively Oaks will meet this Friday, December 15 at 10:30 here at the chapel with lunch at noon
  • Christmas Cantata, “Worship and Treats around the Tree,” this Saturday, December 16 at 6pm
  • Christmas Eve. We will have our normal morning time of corporate worship as well as an evening time of singing and Scripture reading.

Romans 11:33, 36

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! … For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. 

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Josiah has served the Oakridge Bible Chapel family as one of its elders and one of its pastoral staff members since September 2018, before which he ministered as an associate pastor to a local congregation in the Canadian prairies. Josiah's desire is to be used by God to help equip the church for ministry, both while gathered (edification) and while scattered (evangelization). He is married to Patricia, and together they have five children—Jonah, Henry, Nathaniel, Josephine, and Benjamin.

Josiah Boyd

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