Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.” 3 And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he began to inquire of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 And they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet,
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;
For out of you shall come forth a Ruler,
Who will shepherd My people Israel.'”
7 Then Herod secretly called the magi, and ascertained from them the time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, “Go and make careful search for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, that I too may come and worship Him.” 9 And having heard the king, they went their way; and lo, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was. 10 And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. NASB
We know little about these magi, except that they were astrologers and were generally known to be wise men. Anyway, they came “from the east.” And, from some unknown source, they ascertained that one who was to be “King of the Jews” was to be born, they thought, in Jerusalem. So they (a group of them, probably many more than three) set out on their journey west to Jerusalem to find him so they could worship him. Apparently they were believers, otherwise why would they want to worship him.
Now the part in this story that puzzles me is how they knew that the star in the sky was “His star,” or that it would eventually lead them to the child. But that is just what happened. The star led them all the way to Jerusalem, and then, when they got there it must have disappeared, because they had to ask king Herod, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews” (v. 2)?
Well, as luck would have it (but we really know that this was all in God’s plan), there were some priests and scribes that knew where Christ was to be born. They told Herod,
“In Bethlehem of Judea…”
So Herod relayed the message to the magi, and off they went to Bethlehem. And the bible says in verse 9 and 10, “…and lo, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was. 10 And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”
Now why were they so joyful when they saw the star, and what kind of star was this that led them right to Jesus? Here are a few of my thoughts on this:
- First of all, when the star appeared again to them as it had previously, any worries or fears that they would not find Christ, suddenly disappeared. The star was there again!
- In addition to feeling relieved and more confident in their journey, I think they felt a renewed sense of God’s presence and that their journey and mission would be completed.
- As to what this star was, I’m not sure it was a star at all. I think it was more like the Shekinah glory of the Old Testament (Ex. 13:21), or it was the fire of God’s glory shining bright as a star. At any rate, it had to be supernatural—the way it moved and led them to the child and then hovered over Him.
In terms of application, here is what I am excited about and what we can draw from this real story, in four points.
1. Just as the magi set out to find the child in order to worship him, we ought to do the same always, but especially on this Christmas. Let us make that our mission, to find Him and worship Him.
2. Just as the magi followed His star, we ought to be looking for His star to lead us to Jesus. The star for us is His presence, His Spirit. We ought to look for him in the Word and in pray and be diligent to follow Him.
3. Just as the magi took steps to find Him when they asked in Jerusalem where He could be found, we ought also to ask and seek to find Him.
4. Do you remember when His star reappeared to the magi, which gave them so much excitement and joy? It reappeared immediately after they proceeded again on their journey (from Jerusalem to Bethlehem) to find the child Jesus. Likewise, if you continue on the journey to find Him, despite many failures and doubts along the way, His star will again appear to you, and you will experience great joy. Hence, if you are downhearted this Christmas, continue to seek Him and get back on the journey to find Him. And lo, He will indeed enlighten your journey, the journey which will ultimately bring you to a wonderful worship experience of the Savior.
I pray that you will follow His star this Christmas and that you will then experience great joy as you worship Him.