Herod and the Magi - 3 Wise Men Story

Herod and the Magi – 3 Wise Men Story

Today, we’ll look at Herod and the Magi, also referred to as the 3 Wise Men. This reading presents an important part of the events leading to Jesus’ birth. In this continuation of the Christmas story  from Matthew 2:1-16, the wise men (also known as the Magi) search for the baby Jesus.

The passage describes how a star led three men from the East on a journey to Bethlehem. There they encountered King Herod. Then, they searched for and ultimately found the baby Jesus. The Magi hailed him as the “king of the Jews”. Feeling threatened, King Herod wanted the Magi to return to him after they found Christ. He asked them to report His location but they took a different route home.

The Christmas Story – Herod and the Magi (3 Wise Men)

Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.

And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.”

After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him.

Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way. – Matthew 2:7-12 NASB

The Magi and King Herod – How Many Wise Men Visited Jesus?

A quick Christmas trivia question … How many wise men were there? Three? (Answer at bottom)

There Can Be Only One King

The chief priests and teachers of the law were aware of Micah 5:2 and other prophesies in Scripture about the Messiah.

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will come forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His times of coming forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.” ~ Micah 5:2

After searching for the Baby Jesus, the Magi found him and presented him with offerings such as gold, frankincense, and myrrh. After they had paid homage to Jesus, they were warned by God to not go back to Herod and instead to return to their homes by another route.

The Magi’s news troubled Herod because he knew the the Jewish people expected the Messiah to come soon (Luke 3:15). He was aware that the Messiah was prophesied to be a king who would overthrow the Roman rule in Israel and restore the country to its former glory. He was concerned that if the Magi’s news was true, then his kingdom would be at risk.

Herod is Paranoid

King Herod was not in the line of David so many Jews hated him already. He knew if this child was allowed to grow it could mean trouble for him. To ensure his safety, he decided to take action and kill the child.

His goal at this time was to put down a possible revolution which could take away his kingdom and his life.

Herod, like many kings of the day, was paranoid that someone was always plotting to overthrow him. So he became ruthless to those he suspected, and to any who opposed him. Overall, Herod’s paranoia and fear of betrayal ultimately led him to commit terrible acts of violence.


Most Jews expected the Messiah to be a powerful military and political deliverer, like Alexander the Great. Herod’s counselors would have told him this. Add this new information to his already established paranoia, along with some realistic warnings and you have a recipe for disaster.

Herod’s paranoia was already well established as he had ordered the execution of many of his own family members. But, by adding the new information about a potential threat to his throne, Herod was even more convinced that he needed to act decisively and get rid of the threat.

No wonder this ruthless man took no chances and ordered all the baby boys in Bethlehem killed. His decision was tragic and unnecessary, but Herod’s paranoia was too strong to be overcome by reason.

The Role of God

Herod put his power into action. But God had a different plan.

The details of God’s plan are in the verses of Luke about the dream, the wise men deciding to take a different route, flight to Egypt, etc. so I won’t go into detail about these today.

Power of God

I would like to mention that no matter what Herod planned to do to crush a power coming into being, God is in control of the entire situation. And, His will is final! Herod may have wanted to stop Jesus from coming into being, but ultimately it was God’s will that Jesus was born and that Herod’s plans were thwarted. God is in control of the entire situation and His will is final.

Some would call this a mere coincidence or chance happening. But Scripture tells us that God will work out His plan in all situations. In fact, no king or president on earth is powerful enough to curtail what God wants to do. For example, God’s plan was for the Israelites to be set free from slavery in Egypt, despite the attempts of Pharaoh to prevent it.

How about your life? Are you listening to what God has planned for you or are you destined to be a wandering generality?

God has a defined purpose for your life just as He does for mine – if we will only listen.

Love in Christ

– Bob

Christmas Story Contents

Answer: How many wise men? Not sure, the Bible doesn’t really give a number. Sorry!

To learn more about the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to read John 3:16 to get information.


Herod and the Magi - Christmas story


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