7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary...
Thoughts: Herod had worldly wisdom to serve his selfish purposes. So he tried to find out when the baby was born (which should coordinate with the star). Most scholars believe the wise men didn't come to the stable but to some kind of more permanent residency that Joseph had in Bethlehem. Matthew 2:11 speaks of the wise men coming to a house and finding not an infant but a child. Usually western creches try to mix the shepherds, the angels, the animals, and the wise men, but it compresses the time of the stories. Herod did not want to publicly kill a potential king while foreign ambassadors were there- so Herod did not go with them. Herod, of course did not want to worship the child, but to kill him- it was a political and expedient lie. Politicians don't say one thing when they mean the opposite today, do they? We need people who are full of integrity to lead us, not just those who get things accomplished.
Prayer: Lord, be with our rulers. Help them to speak the truth with integrity- to mean what they say and say what they mean. Help us to worship you, Lord, in Spirit and in truth.
John Calvin abridged: The tyrant did not want to show his fear publicly lest it give courage to the people who already despised him-- so he called the magi to himself secretly. Herod seemed to be in a state of shock and inaction. There was a miracle taking place here of rescuing the Son of God from the jaws of a lion. Similarly, when the enemies of the Church would easily come up with a thousand schemes to injure or ruin her it escapes their minds. Though Herod is afraid of arousing the anger of the people, he is not afraid of provoking God. When the magi left, no one accompanies them. This was truly a horrible act of laziness. Perhaps they were afraid of Herod's cruelty. But for the sake of salvation they should have been willing to undertake any risk.