The Wise Bow Before Him
From the devotional Day by Day in the Gospel of Matthew by Chuck Gianotti.
After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.
The magi had followed the star as far as Jerusalem, probably having circled north of the Moab mountains, come down through Galilee, and finally reached Judea. Apparently the star was not visible for at least a while, hence their stopping for directions. Once they set on their way to Bethlehem, in response to the prophetic directions received, the star appeared once again. It has been in vogue for some time for astronomers to search for a naturalistic cause for the phenomenon the magi observed. Some have suggested it was either a confluence of planets lining up or a comet. What is clear is that the stellar manifestation proved an infallible guide for finding the newborn King. In fact, the reemergence of the star was cause for rejoicing. Note the abundance of superlatives, exceedingly and great. Imagine the exhilaration, the adrenaline! They had spent a fortune in travel costs and gifts, and now they were almost there!
After they found the Child, their audience with Him had an immediate effect. They fell to their knees. They worshiped. Literally, from its Greek roots, the word worship means “to kiss towards.” Their affection was singular, and all else lost focus as He came into view. Their worship was also tangible, however, as they laid before Him the three gifts included in many Sunday schools and in song: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (The popular notion that there were “three kings” comes not from Scripture but from the Christmas carol, possibly reflecting the number of gifts presented.)
As God guided the magi by means of pagan astrological studies, celestial signs, prophetic interpretations, and a Roman governor’s jealousy, He also guided them through direct intervention in a dream. He warned them to ignore Herod’s request to report back to him. God’s heart always turns specially toward those who worship and honor His Son.