The High Priests and Religious Scholars

Growing to God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

(The Advent: Faces within the Christmas Story.)

Matthew 2:3-4 (NIV)
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.

Matthew 2:3-4 (MSG)
When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
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“When Herod the king heard this, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. So he called together all the chief priests and [a]scribes of the people and [anxiously] asked them where the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) was to be born.” -AMPLIFIED

Next, our attention turns to the teachers and professional scholars that specialized in Jewish Law and the writings of the prophets. These guys were the most learned of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They were in charge of all the rites and procedures that were done at the Temple; especially the worship. These guys had been professionally trained from a very young age.

It was these officials that the charlatan king of the Jews, Herod, would turn to when he needed information. These men had been studying the Laws of Moses and the Prophets for years and years. They would know where to look to answer the question that the Magi had come to Herod with, “Where is this newborn, who is the King of the Jews? When we were far away in the East we saw His star, and we have followed its glisten and gleam all this way to worship Him.” -Matthew 2:2 (VOICE)

The Voice Translation conveys our text in this way, “King Herod began to hear rumors of the wise men’s quest, and he, and all of his followers in Jerusalem, were worried. So Herod called all of the leading Jewish teachers, the chief priests and head scribes, and he asked them where Hebrew tradition claimed the long-awaited Anointed One would be born.” -Matthew 2:3-4

Let us notice something that stands out in the text that many of us miss; it was not only Herod who was worried and disturbed, but all of his followers. This may have included these teachers of the Law and the chief priests. Although many historical documents point to the fact that Herod and these men were at odds with each other at this point in time it would have been conducive to both parties to work together as a means to an end. Remember too, Herod was rebuilding the Temple and I am sure that these religious officials did not want to sabotage the completion of this work.

Herod asked these learned men the same question that the Magi had asked him, “Where is this baby to be born who is suppose to be king of the Jews.” After doing a bit of research and refreshing of the mind they came back with this answer, “An ancient Hebrew prophet, Micah, said this: But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are no poor relation—For from your people will come a Ruler who will be the shepherd of My people Israel.” -Matthew 2:5-6 (VOICE)

These teachers of the Law and the prophets had been studying their whole lives and waiting for the coming of the Messiah; yet when the moment had finally arrived they did not recognize the fact. They were so busy; caught up in their own plans that they totally missed what they were suppose to be looking for.

May God help us; that we too do not fail to recognize the Christ in our lives.

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to remain diligent with my eyes focused on you. I do not want to miss what you are doing in my life because I am so focused on other things. Be the center of my life, dear Lord. These teachers of the Law had totally missed what you were doing at this time because they had gotten caught up in other things. Lord, help me to never let anything or anyone take your place in my life.

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