Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
God has a long, established record of upending men’s prejudices by using those who have been rejected and despised by the world to accomplish His purposes and bring Him glory. Jacob and Joseph were used by God even though they were younger brothers in a culture the eldest son had all of the advantages. The Lord called Jeremiah to be His prophet even though he was just a child. He used women such as Deborah, Jael, Esther, and Ruth. In the story of Jesus’ birth we also see unusual reactions from unlikely sources.
Those pagan idolaters we know as the magi were the ones who understood the significance of the event and the true identity of Jesus. More importantly, their desire to worship Him confirms their understanding and proper response. I’d also say it was quite bold of them to ask to see the king of the Jews knowing that Herod was on the throne. Are they denying his legitimacy? Did they realize how insulting this was, and possible threatening to their own safety?
The chief priests and scribes were familiar with the messianic prophecies but they lack the wise men’s faithful response. They were like the prodigal son’s elder brother, so close to the father and yet so far away. They handled the revelation of God but they were blinded by their ignorant zeal.
And then we have Herod, whose sole concern seems to be self-preservation. Politics is a zero-sum game and as long as your enemy is losing you’re winning. He doesn’t care whether it’s true that Jesus is the messiah. I think he saw Jesus as a threat more than a hope for deliverance.
The gospel elicits the strangest responses from unexpected sources. Like a piece of equipment it detects the true nature of men. This story proves Jesus’ own words true in John 9:39 when He said:
For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.