In Matthew 2:1-2, we are told: “ . . . behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 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.” Notice that they specifically and explicitly give the reason for their worship of this babe. It is because he was “born King of the Jews.” Remember that in Mark 15:2, this was the question that Pilate asked, “Art thou the King of the Jews? To which he replied “It is as you say.” (NIV)
It's easy to be confused by the use of the word "worship" there in many translations. Today we usually think of "worship" as limited to divine worship, of a deity, but the word as used in many translations also applies to bowing, kneeling, prostrating in respect or submission before a king, nobleman, ruler or other authority. It could be divine worship, or it might not be. The question is, which did the Magi have in mind?
Is there any evidence to suggest that Herod or the chief priests and scribes with whom he consulted were some sort of proto-trinitarians who thought that this Messiah was to be God Himself? Granted Trinitarians do find what they consider to be Old Testament “hints” or “suggestions” of Trinitarian doctrine. But surely it is not credible to suggest that before any of the New Testament had yet been given; before Jesus had yet uttered a word; before any of the Apostles were even aware of the events to come; that Herod already thought that this “King” was really God, or a sort of hybrid man/god, a pre-existent mortal/immortal? You might propose that, but there is no evidence in the record to support it. Yet Herod, knowing only that this child was a potential rival to him as King, said he wanted to go and “worship him also.” Clearly Herod intended this as (feigned) worship of a King, not of a God.
Undoubtedly, these Magi had a limited, partial and incomplete understanding of this newborn king. We aren't told what they knew or how they knew it. Our understanding, informed by the preaching of Jesus and the writings of his followers surely should be more complete than those whose information was limited to the Old Testament at best, and perhaps less than that. We should not be limited in our view of the Christ to the partial view of the Magi. So, what is my point? What do we learn from the limited understanding of the Magi?