After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-2)
Jerusalem was known as the City of God, the center of religion in the first century. It was the perceived “happening place.” So it stands to reason that if you were looking for a newborn king of the Jews that you would go to Jerusalem. That is why the logic of the wise men led them to Jerusalem. It made good sense. But God threw a curve ball to the Jews because Jesus, King of all Kings, was born in an out of the way place.
Jerusalem represents the places we travel in search of God. Today, like the wise men, people may look for God’s work in logical places and, sadly, may not find him there. Where do people go today when they are in search of a Savior? Sometimes, like the wise men, people look in the most obvious places such as churches, Christian schools, families and nations. Hopefully in those places the seekers will find not only knowledge about God but sincere disciples of Christ. There are some indicators to know whether or not you are in a “Jerusalem.”
You will know that you are in “Jerusalem” when you will find people who are glad you are searching for the Christ child, but who are threatened by the thought of a king. “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” (Matthew 2:3) The reason Herod would be threatened seems obvious. But why were the people threatened? Could it have been that another king would disturb status quo? In the current system they were comfortable. But now they felt threatened. So what did they do? The people did nothing. But Herod lied. “Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” (Matthew 2:7-8). Watch out. The powerful and well-positioned are still threatened by Jesus. Like the wise men, stay on course until you find Christ. At the end of your journey you will find joy.
You will know that you are in “Jerusalem” when you find people who are able to tell you a lot about God, but do not join your journey to find the savior. “When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.” (Matthew 2:1-6).
It has always been perplexing to me that the religious teachers did not go with the wise men. They knew about Bethlehem and did nothing. I suppose they went home and life continued as usual. Clearly, knowing about what God can do or is doing is infinitely different then seeking Christ. Jesus said the wise man “hears my words and puts them into practice.” Paul wrote, “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” Omar Bradley said: “Set the course of your life on the stars and not every passing ship.” That is what the wise men did. Good advice for sure. Follow the wise men.