Sun, Dec. 09, 2012 Posted: 07:03 AM
Today I am continuing my series on the perspectives of those involved in the Christmas story. In my first article I talked about God’s perspective on the incarnation of Christ, and in my second article I talked about the perspectives of the shepherds. Today I am going to attempt to share with you the perspectives of the Magi, the three wise men, who followed a star from the east to find Jesus. In order to do this we are going to look at who were the magi or wise men and we are going to look at what the Christmas star or Bethlehem star might have been. Then we will tie it all together and look at God’s purpose for giving the star of Bethlehem.
Visitors from the East
2 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:
6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 8 Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
9 After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.
There is no biblical record of the names of the three Magi or wise men or that there were just three of them. We assume there were three because of the three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Early church tradition states that the names of the three wise men were Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar but there is no way to confirm the validity of that. However, we can discern a little about them from the text.
We know that the wise men were from the east. Most believe that they came from Persia which would have been modern day Iran. It is about a 900 mile journey that these men took to come see the Christ child. We know that they were astrologers. You cannot call them astronomers because astrology mixes religious beliefs with the stars and they did mix religious beliefs with their star gazing. These men more than likely had some knowledge of biblical prophecy since the prophet Daniel had lived in Persia during the time he wrote the book of Daniel. They also might have known about the prophecy of Balaam that speaks of a “star coming out of Jacob” (Num. 24:17)
The wise men first went to Jerusalem in their search for Jesus. They met with King Herod who was a prime example of a duplicitous government trying to use the faith of the wise men for it’s own gain. They then traveled on to Bethlehem after finding out more information about where the birth of the Messiah would take place. It is here where they see the star hovering over where Jesus was found.
Here you see that the wise men gave gifts that were costly. They gave these gifts not to receive something but to give something. They gave them as an act of worship. So as you can see, as they went along their journey, they drew closer to Jesus and came to the point that they gave up what was precious to them for the chance to worship at the feet of the King of Kings.
The Christmas star could only have been caused by one of two sources. Either it was a natural occurrence within the laws of physics that God used as a sign to the wise men, or it was a supernatural occurrence that God used as a sign. Let’s take a look at each one and you can decide which one best fits the narrative.
There are a few other explanations in science but they are very rare and very unlikely. So let’s look again at what we can learn of the Christmas star from the text in Matthew.
These things would lead me to believe that the Star of Bethlehem was a supernatural sign given by God to these wise men as a sign just like the angels appearing to the shepherds while they were tending their flocks.
The purpose of the Christmas star was to point the wise men to Jesus. The reason He used a star as a sign is because those men would understand the star as a sign. His desire is revealed in this. He wanted to communicate to these men on their level.
The Christmas star is still a sign to us today. It is a light that points to the light of the world. It is a sign that the Father of lights gave us a gift in which we could find true peace, true life, and true meaning in our life.
This Christmas, won’t you allow the Christmas star to lead you to Jesus?
This article on The Magi and the Christmas Star was first published on Taber's Truths