Updated: Nov 21, 2019
Daniel’s Tomb in Shoosh, Southern Iran (called Susa in the Bible)
Iranians have not always been Muslims, they were Zoroastrians before Islam came around 634-750 AD. The Magi who came to worship Jesus were Zoroastrian priests. They were probably from Persia, the superpower Empire to the east of Israel at the time of Jesus’ birth. The Persian Empire included many peoples, Pars (Persians), Medes (Kurds), Arabs, Babylonians, and Assyrians. The Magi were probably made of some people from all of these ethnic groups.
What better way to celebrate Christmas than doing what the Magi did, in seeking after Christ, and worshiping Him?
1. They sought out the Messiah, they traveled a long way, from the east in Persia, and put forth effort into seeking Him. (Matthew 2:1-2) Are you seeking to know Him deeper this year?
2. They wanted to worship Christ, which means they recognized Him as God and King of Kings. (Matthew 2:2) Not only “king of the Jews”, but “king of the nations” ( Revelation 15:3-4) Only God is deserving of worship ( Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9; Matthew 4:10, Deuteronomy 6:13; 10:20), so this passage is teaching that Jesus is the incarnate God. (see also Matthew 14:33; 22:41-46; 26:63-64)
Do you desire to worship Jesus as God?
3. They believed the Scriptures when it was quoted for them that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. (Matthew 2:4-9, verses 5 and 6 quoting Micah 5:2)
Do you believe the prophesies about the Messiah?
4. They actually did worship Christ when they found Him. (Matthew 2:11-12)
Do you really worship Him?
5. They gave gifts to Jesus as a child, which shows that giving for the cause of the kingdom of God is a form of worship. (Matthew 2:11)
Do you give gifts to your church and missions and ministries that are spreading the gospel and working for the sake of the kingdom of God?
6. Since they worshiped Christ, and only God is deserving of worship, they had repented of their false religion and turned to trust in Christ.
Is there genuine repentance in your life?
7. Their faith and worship of Christ resulted in persecution, and so God spoke to them in a dream not to return to Herod. They were changed and returned to their own country by a different way. (Matthew 2:12)
Do you ever suffer any kind of misunderstanding or mockery or insults or persecution for your faith?
How did the Magi know about the Messiah being Promised? The Magi were priests of the Zoroastrian religion, the religion of Persia at the time of Christ; they were according to John McArthur, “king-makers” – that is, they had to perform religious ceremonies for Persian kings to be crowned. Herodotus, the Greek historian, tells us the Magi were among the Medes ( today the Kurds are the modern descendants of the Medes) and Persians ( Iranians), and wise men/astrologers/astronomers among the Babylonians. Daniel chapters 2, 4, and 5 show that the Babylonians also had Magi, “wise men”. Persia later conquered Babylon and had a vast empire that included many peoples. (see Esther 1:1)
Daniel, the prophet, was in Iran (Persia) when he prophesied of the Messiah to come. (around 539-536 BC) (Daniel chapter 9:1-2; 24-27; see also 6:28). Daniel’s grave is there today in the city of Shoosh, (“Susa” in Nehemiah 1:1) southern Iran. Apparently, the Magi heard, read, and studied the prophesy of Daniel 9:24-27; and had other Hebrew Scriptures such as Numbers 24:17 ( “A star will come out of Jacob”) The Magi had been passing down this knowledge and prophecy for more than 500 years!
The Magi were experts in astronomy and astrology, so they watched the stars for the right timing. They counted the years of the “70 periods of sevens of years” ( Daniel 9:24-27) prophesy and passed the prophesy down to each generation. God took a practice in their religion ( watching the stars) and communicated His truth by using His creation, the stars, by moving a star, performing a miracle to confound their false belief and turn them to the Creator of the stars. They followed the miracle-moving-star to Israel. (Matthew 2:1-12) The Hebrew words, Messiah and Prince speak of royalty and Lordship, a leader, and an anointed King, so they asked when they arrived, “Where is the King of the Jews?”
This passage shows us that part of Matthew’s purpose for writing his gospel was not only to prove to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah for them, but for all nations, all peoples. Matthew, the most Jewish of the gospels, and the one that contains the most quotes and allusions to OT prophesies, and the repeated or like phrase, “in order to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet”; also has another prominent theme of God’s purpose to bless other nations. It is very interesting that Matthew begins with Jesus as the Son of David and Son of Abraham (1:1), that He is the fulfillment of all the covenants and promises to David and Abraham, but also that Matthew 2 emphasized the worship of Jesus the Messiah, (2:1-2, 11-12) and Matthew’s gospel also ends with the disciples worshiping Jesus (28:16) and the great commission to go and disciple all the nations. (28:19)