After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. Matthew 2: 9 – 12
“Where’s the star?”
These were the first words Miles spoke when he walked in over the weekend and saw our Christmas tree! I reminded him that last year I began decorating the tree differently, and instead of putting a star on top, I put bunches of holly with red berries, and then I added other branches throughout the tree.
He just stood there staring as in total disbelief, looked at me, and said as gently as he could, “But you’re supposed to have a star!”
I showed him all the different star ornaments I had near the top and throughout the branches, but he still wasn’t satisfied. His reply – as if I really needed to understand was, “ Nan, the star is really important. I think you need one.”
I’ve thought about what he said, and I agree. Next year, I will have a star.
What significance the star of Bethlehem holds – that bright, luminous body of light visible in the night sky that led the Magi to find the Christ child. We wonder at the miracle of its brightness, but even more, it reminds us of the wonder of the miracle of His birth and of the light He brought to a world lost in darkness.
It’s a beautiful story, and one made even more remarkable by the idea that it wasn’t the religious leaders or long time believers that God first chose to come to worship Jesus, but it was the lowly shepherds and the unlikeliest of visitors, the Magi, sometimes referred to as “The Three Kings” or “The Three Wise Men.” Biblical scholars tell us they were actually scientists, astrologers – men of great knowledge and prominence who traveled a long distance to seek Him.
How these men knew about Him, or the star, we don’t know, but we do know they must have known this wasn’t just any ordinary star. Perhaps they had heard rumors or stories coming out of the East about the birth of a Savior and King, or out of curiosity they may have studied the early prophecies such as this one from Numbers 17: “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.” Or they may have researched the prophecies of Daniel about the birth of the Messiah to come. Possibly they had been waiting and watching for years for such a supernatural event in the skies and were eager to see this King, of which they had heard.
They had no map, no destination in mind, not even news of anyone else who had ever made such a journey before, yet they were compelled to follow the star. They even stopped off in Jerusalem to ask King Herod, “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.”
Herod was disturbed by the news and when he learned that prophecy had predicted He would be born in Bethlehem, he told the Magi to go and find Him, and return to Him so He might go and worship Him, as well. ( His motive was later made known and why they were told in a dream not to do as he asked.)
The Magi continued on their journey following the radiant and brilliantly, shining star, leading them to the Christ child. Night after night they checked their progress by the light of the star, spurred on by the promise of what they would find. Some believe the journey may have taken months, and they may not have found the newborn in a manger, as often portrayed in nativity scenes. But whenever they did find Him, they bowed down and worshiped Him, and lay before Him expensive gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh – gifts fitting for a king. It was almost as if they couldn’t help themselves from worshiping, for certainly they realized the divine nature of such a star leading them to the site of this child.
The story reminds us that God will reach out to everyone, and He will come to us in whatever way we will most understand. We, like these men, seem to be searching for something to fill our emptiness. These wise men came because perhaps they, too, realized they needed a promise of something more. Hope kept them going, just as it does us today. And there’s only One who can fill that longing and give us the assurance we need.
May the star of Bethlehem and His light shine brightly in our hearts and show us the way.
Our most gracious and loving God, what hope and joy we find in You. How grateful we are for your sovereign grace over our lives and your love for us, as shown in the birth of your Son. May we seek Him and His light, just as the Magi did, and live in His loving presence. Amen