Jubilee College of Music

Always Singing...Dr. Smoak

notes about music & worship

for JCM students, graduates, faculty

Christmas Worship: Herod and the Magi

In Matthew chapter two we find an important part of the Christmas story. It is the story of the Magi, or Wise Men, coming from the East to Jerusalem to find the new born King of the Jews. Theologically, the most important point of this story is the fact that the Magi were not Jews. They were foreigners, probably from the ancient city of Bagdad, Gentiles. Thus the gospel writer Matthew is proclaiming that Jesus came to earth not just for the Jews but for all peoples of the world. Therefore we joyfully sing this Christmas carol, “Joy to the WORLD! the Lord is come!”

But “worship” is also an important part of the Magi Christmas story: false worship and true worship. False worship is found in King Herod’s response to the Wise Men as they inquired where the King of the Jews would be born. Listen to Herod’s request as he sent the Magi to Bethlehem to find the new born baby:

“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 2:8)

Herod’s words are full of lies and treachery. He had no intention of worshiping the new born baby. He was full of hatred and jealousy as he sent his soldiers to kill all of the boys in Bethlehem and the surrounding vicinity that were two years old and younger. This was murder, certainly not worship.

From the beginning of the story true worship was the focus of the Magi following the star.

“We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:2)

Notice the words “his star.” The Magi had been looking for truth. They realized that this “star” had spiritual significance. God had placed the star of his Son in the sky to lead the Wise Men to the one and only person, Jesus, who is worthy of true worship. And indeed they did worship:

On coming to the house, they saw the child and his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. (Matthew 2:10)

This was true worship based upon God’s directions and revelation.

The fact that the Magi presented gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh to the baby is also an indication of true worship. Their posture of worship was to “bow down” and their heart of worship led them to give valuable gifts suitable for a king. May we do the same as we worship the new born King. His name is Jesus!

Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
And heav’n and nature sing.