If the Jewish leaders knew that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, why didn't they go and check it out for themselves when the Magi showed up?
Let me suggest three answers to that question.
1. Their knowledge made them intellectually lazy.
Did you know it's possible to know too much? You can study so long, compare so many opinions, read so many books, and debate so many ideas that you never get around to making a commitment to anything. You are "ever learning but never able to acknowledge the truth" (2 Timothy 3:7). Knowledge is good but at some point you've got to decide what you personally believe.
2. Their religion made them spiritually indifferent.
Answering Herod's question was like playing a game of Bible Trivia where you know all the answers in advance. But religion, even good religion, even Bible-based religion, can deaden the heart and mind. It's too easy for all of us to "play by the rules" of whatever church we attend and still keep Christ at arm's length. As long as Jesus is just a theory to us, he will be of no benefit to us personally.
3. Their background made them culturally arrogant.
I think this may be a central reason. Think about it for a moment. One day some strangers show up in your town, claiming to have seen a star in the east that led them in search of a baby born "king of the Jews." What a bizarre story. And who are these guys anyway? How do we know they're for real? Who sent them? Where did they come from? And what was this star? Where is it? Why can't we see it?
It's always easy to discount people who aren't like us.
Excerpted and adapted from "Six Miles From Jesus" by Keep Believing Ministries (used by permission).