Last night, we put away our last Christmas decoration. You may or may not have done the same. But before we leave Christmas as a 2014 memory, I’d like to explore the passage about the “wise men.” Their story is in Matthew 2.
1 After Jesus was born… Magi from the east came to Jerusalem
2 and asked, 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.” Matt. 2:1-2
Many believe these astrologers were from Persia and that they studied the stars with great wisdom. Somehow they had knowledge of Jewish names for celestial stars and clusters. Only in this way would they be able to identify them with a Jewish king. Where did they learn this? Could it be that Jews, taken into captivity in Esther’s day, had lingering influence on these Magi?
Some researchers believe the astrologers saw a particular set of stars that aligned themselves there in the eastern sky. They interpreted this to mean a special “king of the Jews” had been born (we have seen His star), and they were thus persuaded to make the long journey to worship him. This had to be more than just curious star-gazers.
They traveled to Jerusalem for, after all, that’s where the Jewish Temple was located. They posed their question to King Herod, who was not actually a Jew himself. He had to call in the religious leaders to find out where the Christ (Greek for Messiah) was to be born. “Bethlehem,” they told Herod.
So the Magi mounted their camels once again and set off for Bethlehem, another five miles away.
9 …they went 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.
10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. Matt. 2:9-10
What a thrill for them to see the star once again. What a confirmation that God was directing them in this last trek of their journey. Note that Jesus is no longer a baby, but a child.
11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Matt. 2:11
Jesus is no longer a baby in a manger, he is a child in a house. Well, that messes up our nativity scene and dramatic music programs, doesn’t it? Maybe we need a “some-time-later” sign.
Unlike the religious leaders, these strange men from a pagan country have discovered the leadership of the “One God.” Their immediate response? They bow down and worship him. They offer three gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh – leading us to assume there were three men. Maybe or maybe not.
The question I ask is, “Why did others not see this star in the east?” My conclusion is that these wise men were the only ones looking for it. Likely they had been following patterns in the sky for months, noticing the alignment beginning to take shape.
When the star appeared again outside of Jerusalem, it confirmed their faithfulness in making the long journey.
As we begin the New Year, let us intentionally look for God’s direction in our lives. What star does he have for you in this new year? A ministry opportunity? A relationship to mend? The determination to spend regular quality time in prayer and Bible study? What star does he want to shine into your life?
As you faithfully launch out, no doubt he will shine that light upon you again as a confirmation. May it be so for you. I’d love to hear about it.
Happy fulfilling New Year to you all.
~ Joyce ~