And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8-12 ESV)
You may be thinking, “Pete, you missed a day. Your title talks about wise men, but the Scripture is about the shepherds.” I didn’t miss a day, though. The title is about the wise, not just the Magi. You see wisdom comes from God and the shepherds received wisdom that night. That wisdom led them right to the newborn King.
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. (Luke 2:15-17 ESV)
They didn’t keep this wisdom to themselves. They shared it with others – anyone who was willing to listen. The Magi were known for their eastern “wisdom,” but God used that wisdom to lead them to true wisdom. God gave them a new star that would also lead them right to the newborn King.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-2 ESV)
Herod, the king of the area where Jesus was born, was also given the opportunity to receive wisdom from God as well.
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” (Matthew 2:3-8 ESV)
The shepherds, magi, and Herod were all given the same wisdom: The King is Born. What they do with that wisdom, however, determines whether or not they are wise. The same is true for us today. We have the same wisdom about Jesus that billions of others have been given. What we do with that wisdom determines whether or not we are wise.
After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. (Matthew 2:9-12 ESV)
This is why we refer to the Magi as “wise men” and we would even call the shepherds “wise,” but the word “wisdom” does not get applied to Herod. Herod rejected the wisdom of God for his own power and glory.
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” (Matthew 2:13 ESV)
How about you? Have you received wisdom from God? Does it point you straight to Jesus as King? What do you do with that wisdom? Would others call you “wise?” Would God?