Lessons from the Magi
When we read Matthew 2:1–11 we encounter “wise men from the East,” or Magi. These men were probably Persian and they were, like the Levites of Israel, a tribe or group of priests. They were teachers, instructors and highly skilled in philosophy, medicine and natural science. At this time they were good and holy men.
We can learn a lot from these men who presented Jesus with gifts.
They paid attention to what was going on around them. Many historians at the time, both Roman and Jewish, wrote about a strange feeling of expectation at this time about a coming King. The Roman historian Suetonius, speaking of the time around the birth of Christ, said, “There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief that it was fated at that time for men coming from Judea to rule the world.” Other historians, Tacitus and Josephus, wrote similar beliefs. Men and women were waiting for God and these wise Magi were attentive to that view. And, they acted.
They went after truth. They set out, most probably from Babylon or modern-day Iraq to find what was going on. Even when their journey was somewhat interrupted by King Herod, they kept pursuing their objective of finding truth. They could have just let what was happening go past them, but they chose to find the source. Not only were people anticipating something, but also the skies were different. Ancient cultures paid attention to anything unusual in the sky because for them the stars meant order. So something different had meaning and the wise men pursued it.
They reacted with loving worship. They gave Jesus the best gifts they could bring. Unlike Herod’s reaction of hatred and jealousy and the Jewish religious leader’s indifference, these men recognized the king and brought the best, most generous gifts available. Plus, they brought themselves to worship and adore Jesus.
We can learn a lot from these men. Like them, we can pay attention to what is going on around us. We can stop and make sure we’re taking advantage of every opportunity God gives us to hear His voice and to help and serve other people.
We also should continue to always pursue truth. We just had a short series on the Gospel and frequently saw how false teaching and false teachers keep trying to separate us from God’s truth, His will and His way. Friends, we cannot let that happen. We need not just read our Bibles but also study, pursue and know the Truth.
Lastly, in everything we need to worship God for what He’s done for us. This season and celebrating Jesus’ birth is a reminder of what He did—For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). That needs to bring us to our knees in worship and thanksgiving.
Let’s not look at the wise men as simply three characters in a nativity scene. Let’s realize what they did and how much we can learn from their journey and presence with Jesus.
 John F. MacArthur, Matthew: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1985), 28