Go read Matthew chapter 2 then come back. You’re done? Great! What did you see? Did you see the Wise Men coming? How about them finding Jesus? How about the methods they used to find Jesus? What about the religious rulers of the day? And what about their vision? I would submit that we can look at this account of the first Christmas and see examples of the persecuted church.
First, in verses 1 and 2 the wise men come asking about Jesus. But notice how they ask…they ask far and wide for the King of the Jews. They ask so far and wide that Herod finds out in verse 3. But, like any good dictator, he doesn’t want people thinking about his replacement so he is troubled.
In verses 4-6 he calls the religious leaders of the day and asks them questions. They, wanting to impress Herod tell him everything about this coming king. Instead of looking him in the eye and doing the Nathan thing (Nathan told David he had sinned before God in 2 Sam. 12:1-15). Herod then calls the wise men in and feeds them a line about wanting to worship this new king (didn’t they think that rather odd…why would the current king want to go worship his replacement??)
The wise men bothched their research so bad that God had to “fix things” by sending them and Joseph a dream telling them what to do (don’t take this out of context. God knew what was going to happen beforehand…he didn’t have to “come up with something on the fly” to “fix this problem” that He didn’t know of. God knew from before time what would happen).
We see what happens when Herod finds out that he can’t “worship” this new king. He has been mocked, gets mad, and takes his revenge out on the innocents (the children < 2) of that area.
If we continue this, fast forward to the crucifixion. How many of the people in the crowd had their children killed because of this (Jesus coming, the wise men asking, Herod finding out, and then killing all of the kids of that apx. age)? Does this give you a different perspective on their anger towards Jesus?
How about looking at the wise men, religious rulers, and Herod’s reaction? Does it give you pause to think about things? How should we act when given a chance to confront a ruthless dictator like the religious leaders were? Should we do the “easy” christian thing (perhaps pray with him, perhaps give him a Bible, perhaps even witness to him) or should we be like Nathan and tell him straight up (he has sinned before God and unless he accepts Jesus as his personal savior and repents of his sins, he will spend eternity in a lake of everlasting fire)? How about the wise men? Do we need to be tactful when we ask questions?
Certainly we need to pray and do what God leads. We should also be willing to confront evil regardless of the consequence. We should also realize that we need to think a bit about people’s motives. Above all, we need to remember that we are ambassadors for Christ and He has instructed us to be “… wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”