When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: Matthew 2:4–5
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Long before Jesus was born, the prophets had predicted His coming. The priests and rabbis knew that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem because of a prophesy they related to Herod and the Magi. We know that even the common people were taught this prophesy since later–when Jesus started His ministry–the people said, "How can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David's family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?" (John 7:41b-42)
The people must not have realized that He was born in Bethlehem at the time of the census. The Jews of Jesus time really had no excuse for not recognizing their Messiah. Had they truly been looking for Him, they would have known who He was–just as the Wise Men and even Herod did.
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Lord, I praise You for the reliability of Your Word. Help me to be willing to share the message of Your coming with my children, their friends and all who might be seeking for truth. As the Christmas cards say, "Wise men still seek Him."
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"Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." Matthew 2:2 NIV