Matthew 2:1-13Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
Even though we are fast approaching the middle of June and sweltering this week in 100 degree heat, my Bible reading has taken me to the story of Christmas. Matthew chapter two is a famous passage of Scripture, detailing the events we see on display in every frosty December manger scene. As I was reading through the story of the wise men seeking Jesus from the east, I began to see very practical application in these verses to something with which we deal every day, namely: making assumptions.
In verse 1, a group of wise men suddenly show up in Jerusalem and begin questioning the townspeople concerning the whereabouts of their newborn King. They claimed to have seen His star and had taken a long journey to come worship Him. Their visit, though full of good intentions, ended up bringing danger to the life of the Holy Child, and caused Joseph and Mary to uproot and move to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod. While the wise men returned to their country rejoicing, Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt running.
The wise men made a few incorrect assumptions that led to a dangerous situation for the Christ Child. First, they assumed that the people of Jerusalem already knew that their Savior had been born. However, the residents of Jerusalem were completely unaware of the Messiah’s birth and were no help in locating the Child. The wise men must have been quite surprised that the people had no idea their King had been born. After all, they had been following a star from a distant country, but the people who were in the immediate vicinity had no knowledge of the glorious miracle happening around them.
The second erroneous assumption of the wise men was that the people actually understood the significance of their situation. The Bible does not give us the details of the star the wise men saw nor does it describe how they were able to associate the star with the birth of Christ; however it is safe to conclude that they were consistently looking for the sign of the Messiah’s coming into the world, and in their search for the Savior, they made a logical assumption. They assumed that if they had studied the stars, earnestly looking for the birth of the King of the Jews and had at great peril and expense travelled from afar to worship Him, certainly the people to whom Jesus came would be aware of the miracle that had taken place in their own locality.
However, their assumption was wrong. The people of Jerusalem had no knowledge of the Messiah’s advent and God finally had to lead them directly to Jesus by the star. Another assumption they made was that the people would understand why they were there. I can imagine the wise men with a caravan of camels and supplies, conspicuously riding into Jerusalem and inquiring of people on the street “Where is the one born to be your King?” and the people frowning with confused surprise and returning the question “What King?” The wise men then saying “You know, the child who is born King of the Jews. We have followed His star from the east to worship Him.” I can imagine the people looking even more incredulous and responding “What star?” It must have become quickly apparent that the wise men and the people were “not on the same page”. Again, the wise men made as assumption. They assumed that the people would understand why they were there. After all, the star was not invisible. The people of Jerusalem must have seen it as did the wise men, but the people paid no attention to it. Even if they saw it, they certainly did not associate the star with the birth of Jesus. Even after the wise men met with Herod, the star guided them directly to where Jesus was, and the people could have surely followed along with them, but there is no indication that they did so. The wise men had assumed that the people would know that Jesus had been born, and that they would understand the significance of the star, but their assumption was incorrect.
The final assumption that the wise men made was if the people knew about the Messiah’s birth, they would also excitedly come to worship Him. They seemed to have believed Herod’s story when he deceitfully asserted his desire to worship the Child; otherwise, God would not have had to warm them not to return to Herod. It seems they were going to find Christ, worship Him, and return to give Herod the good news of the Messiah’s location, but God intervened and warned them not to do so. For the wise men, it was inconceivable that anyone would reject Jesus as King, and they certainly did not expect that there would be those who wanted to kill Him. In their minds, they were excited, having “exceeding great joy” that the Savior was born into the world. They could not fathom that there would be those who did not share their joy. Although their only conceivable response was worship, but the response of others was much more sinister.
In our lives, we must also be very careful about making assumptions as they often have unintended consequences. When a situation arises in our work or home, it is easy to get “tunnel vision” and assume that others view the situation the same way we do; however, that is often not the case. We can learn from the assumptions of the wise men and make application to our lives today.
- They assumed others knew what they knew. Just as the residents of Jerusalem were unaware of the important happenings immediately around them, we must be careful not to assume that others approach a situation in the same way that we do, no matter how obvious the facts may seem to us. People in the same environment may not all have the same information and not everyone may be operating from the same set of facts.
- They assumed others understood what they saw. Just as the wise men were the only ones who understood the significance of the star, we must also be careful not to assume that others are interpreting information in the same way that we are. Two people may see the same situation and come to different conclusions.
- They assumed that others would have the same response. Just as the wise men were unable to perceive the animosity of Herod toward the newborn Christ, we must be careful not to assume that other people will have the same reaction to a situation that we do. Not everyone has the same goals and motives. Individuals in the same business, church, or school may not sincerely have the same outcomes in mind, no matter what they may say.
Remember that even the wisest men can fall prey to inaccurate assumptions. In the end, we must rely on God for discernment and direction. God can see what we cant see and ultimately guide the situation to His glory. Just as God directed the wise men back to their country another way, we must be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in every situation of our lives.
Clay Miller has been serving God through various writing endeavors for more than ten years. His new blog "The Constructive Christian" offers a unique perspective on God's Word in an edifying devotional format. http://constructivechristian.blogspot.com/