The Wise Men

by Dr. Mike Zachary

  1. Identify the Setting
  • Determine where the story is taking place.

We are plainly told the setting: Bethlehem of Judea during the time when Herod was the king. Bethlehem is about five-and-a-half miles from Jerusalem.

From secular history, we learn that Herod reigned from 37 B.C. until 4 A.D. He is know as a man who murdered members of his own family to ensure that he alone would be king.

  1. Identify the Characters
  • In this story, several characters are mentioned:
Character Quick Description
1. Herod Roman ruler, deceitful, murderous
2. Wise Men From the East, perhaps Babylon. Astronomers who were looking for the “King of the Jews.”
3. Chief priests and scribes Learned religious rulers of Israel
4. Jesus Described here as a young child.
5. Mary The mother of Jesus
6. God Used a dream to warn Joseph and Mary
7. Angel of the Lord Gave Joseph instructions
8. Joseph Earthly father of Jesus, taking care of his family in difficult times
9. Children of Bethlehem All those two years old and under were killed.
  1. Outline the Plot
  • List the events of the story in order.
1. Wise men from the East came to Jerusalem looking for the Kings of the Jews.
2. Herod demands the Jewish religious leaders to tell him where Christ would be born.
3. The religious leaders quote the Old Testament prophet Micah to tell Herod that Christ would be born in Bethlehem.
4. Herod deceptively talks with the wise men, instructing them to let him know Christ’s whereabouts.
5. The wise men travel to Bethlehem, find Jesus, and present Him gifts.
6. The wise men did not tell Herod where Christ was, and they returned home without going through Jerusalem.
7. Being warned by God, Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt for safety.
8. Matthew quotes the Old Testament prophet Hosea (11:1), showing the Christ was predicted to come out of Egypt.
9. Herod, in a rage, slew all the children of Bethlehem who were under two years of age.
10. Matthew quotes the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah (31:15), showing this event of Christ’s life was predicted.
11. An angel tells Joseph and Mary to leave Egypt, so they obeyed.
12. Joseph, fearful of Archelaus (Herod’s son) he went to Galilee.
13. Matthew demonstrates that even being a Nazarene was a fulfillment of prophecy.
  1. Analyze the Conflict
  • Every good story has some kind of conflict or tension, and the story keeps building until the tension reaches its high point. After that, the tension is resolved; and there is usually some closing information.
  • The great conflict here is between a king on earth who was trying at all costs to hold on to his own power and the King of Kings who is the Author of all power.
  1. Determine the Purpose the Story
  • The theme, or moral of the story, is the purpose of the story. Why has this story been told in the first place?
  • Perhaps the purpose of this story is to demonstrate that no man, even a powerful king, can frustrate the will of God.
  1. What Does This Story Tell Me About Jesus?
  • In this story, Jesus,
  • Is the promised Messiah.
  • His coming was known to non-Jews from the East.
  • His existence causes great jealousy.
  • Jesus draws a sharp distinction among people. Some worship Him. Some want to kill Him.
  1. What Does This Story Tell Me About the Other Characters?
  • Herod
  • Is an example of a man who worships himself, but not God.
  • Evil men think only of their needs.

      •Wise Men

  • All their power and learning was under God’s authority.
  • They obeyed God
  • Joseph & Mary
  • Needed God’s guidance to keep their family safe.




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