The Unwise Men
Read Matthew 2:1-12
“they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for his is what has been written by the prophet.”
We all know the story of the Wisemen who visited Jesus and Mary at the birth of Jesus. Having seen his star in the east, they came to worship the newborn king of the Jews. While we sing songs of their journey at Christmas and celebrate their testimony of the Messianic king, we often overlook the Unwisemen. These men knew and even anticipated the birth of the Messianic King. They were careful students of the Old Testament prophets, and they knew the prophetic passages that foretold the coming of the King. While they had not discerned the exact time of the arrival of the Messiah, they were anticipating that his appearance was soon. They even had identified the exact town where this hope of Israel was to be born. Yet, for all their knowledge and insight into the prophetic anticipation of the king, they completely missed it when he arrived. These Unwisemen were the scribes and the priests of Israel.
The remarkable part of the story is that when Herod asked them where the Messiah was to be born, they knew the answer! With an incredible understanding of God's prophetic statement, they rightfully discerned that Micah 5:2 was more than just a prophecy of the arrival of a Davidic King. The prophecy was about the appearance of THE Davidic King, the one who was anticipated throughout the Old Testament and foretold of the coming of a final Messianic King who would establish an eternal reign over the nation of Israel and lead the nation into a glorious period of peace and prosperity that would be eternal in time and universal in scope. Thus when Herod asked the question, they gave the correct answer: In Bethlehem of Judea, a small village approximately 5 miles south of Jerusalem. With the arrival and fanfare that the Wisemen created when they arrived in Jerusalem asking about the birth of this Messianic King, one would have thought they would have at least sent a delegation with the Wisemen to investigate this event. They were anticipating it; they knew the scriptures. Yet, when the time came, they responded with remarkable indifference.
Wisdom is the ability to know the truth and act appropriately in response to the truth. These religious leaders knew the prophecies but failed to act upon this knowledge. They knew the truth, but it did not translate into obedience to the truth. Throughout the life and ministry of Christ, he would not only proclaim his Messianic authority but also condemn these spiritual leaders for their failure to act upon their knowledge. Even at his trial, Jesus would affirm that he was the Messianic King (Matthew 26:63-64). Yet they refused to listen. The opposite of wisdom is hypocrisy, for hypocrisy is having knowledge and affirming that knowledge by failing to act upon these truths. They were indeed the Unwisemen.
Often today, we can quickly become the like these Unwisemen. We know the Bible. We know the prophecies of Christ that foretold his first coming but also foretell his future return. We know the content of the scriptures, but like these Unwisemen, we need to act appropriately in obedience to these words. Knowledge without wisdom is self-inflating rather than self-transforming (1 Corinthians 8:1). True wisdom is found in applying the scriptures to our life. It is carefully, painstakingly, and prayerfully being students of the Bible to live by its word. We can easily understand the message, but it takes hard work and prayerful submission to obey it and allow it to transform and change our lives. Are we wise or unwise?