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The Christmas Star

Over the past week, we have had an astronomical event some are calling the “Christmas Star.” Visible starting on December 21st, the planets Jupitar and Saturn will be within 0.1 degree of aligning with each other. Such an event is called a conjunction in the science community. In researching this event, the last conjunction this close was over 400 years ago and will not occur again for another 60 years. But as I looked up in the western sky and found the uniquely yellow star near the moon, I was reminded of the Magi in Matthew 2:9-11.  

In Matthew 2:9 we read; “When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.  And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Now if you read at the start of Chapter 2, you would find these “wise men from the east” arriving in Jerusalem seeking the newborn King of the Jews and expecting to worship Him. Of course when King Herod found out, he felt threatened by this news and called the Magi to his court. After learning from his scribes, King Herod informed the Magi that the newborn King is in Bethlehem where they should find the child and report back to the King (so that he might worship him also). Of course, the Magi are spoken to in a dream and they departed for their own country without returning to Herod.

I must admit, I had not really looked at those verses in many years and had it not been for the radio announcer’s reference to the “Christmas Star,” I probably would have not even considered this passage. But now that I am reading in Matthew 2, I can better appreciate who the Magi represented in the birth of the Messiah. Scholars believe these “wise men from the east” were most likely from Parthia (ancient Babylon) and could have been astrologers. As astrologers, these men would have observed the bright star peculiarity, direction and through studying ancient scrolls (Micah 5:2), would have deduced the birth of the King of the Jews. The Magi’s intentions could have been total self-interest in that an alliance with the Jews could create a united front against the Romans, which would make the Magi worldly representatives in comparison to the other visitors of this event. Between the shepherds, the animals, the stable, Joseph and Mary; the Magi would have certainly stood out for their worldly appearance.

Yet as we read the scripture in Matthew 2:11, we see the Wise men presenting gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the new King. We know that gold was a fitting gift for a King, frankincense was a gift for deity, and myrrh was a spice used for preparing a dead body. Such gifts would have been a valuable possession of each man and represents them giving their best to the new King. In addition, Scholars believe these wise men traveled hundreds of miles to reach Jerusalem and could have taken close to a year to travel. Do we have that same passion for the King and are we willing to give of our most valuable possessions?

As I reflect on those passages, I question how many times have I been a ‘wise man” or a King Herod. Think about if you are approached by someone curious about this “baby in a manager” and you tell them where they can find Him (church or Pastor, how are we any different than King Herod? We should be seeking Him and offering our most valuable gifts to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Do I passionately seek a sign from above, following whatever distance to learn of its meaning? Am I willing to give of my best to the one true King? Asking nothing in return, these wise men should be a reminder of how we should treat the birth of the Savior King and how we should be passionate for His return.

As I smiled, my heart was filled with perspective in witnessing a GOD MOMENT! Yes, scientifically it is two planets closely aligning to create a bright star that has only occurred a handful of times in man’s written history (oh, by the way, there are studies to suggest that there were three conjunctions just prior to Christ’s birth). But to me, with all the turmoil and fear of 2020, the Christmas Star was a reminder of God’s precious gift, the birth of Jesus Christ, and should encourage us to seek Jesus and to give like those Wise Men from the East.