Summary: This is part of the sermon series on the descriptive names of Jesus. Today we're looking at Jesus being the Bright and Morning Star, and the Light of the World.
Names of Jesus
“Bright and Morning Star”
Today, in the Catholic Church and some Protestant churches they are celebrating “Epiphany Sunday.” It celebrates the visit of the Wise Men to see the baby Jesus. The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek and means “manifestation,” and this celebration is about the manifestation of God in human form.
What led these Wise Men to Jesus was also an epiphany, another manifestation, a star.
Historically the stars have defined and have been an important part of human civilizations in their religious practices as well as for guidance, both spiritual and physical. The motion of the stars in the night sky helped to create calendars, and regulate planting seasons.
Astronomy, the study of the heavens, may be the most ancient of the sciences. The creation of astrological signs came from early astronomers. It was believed by most ancient civilizations that observing the movement of the stars and planets could help to predict future events.
Therefore, in ancient days, especially in the Middle East, astrology and astronomy were combined. The Wise Men from the Christmas story were those who studied both.
Today we know stars as spherical astronomical objects consisting of plasma. The nearest star to the earth, and the one that gives and sustains life upon our planet, is called the Sun. It is not without significance then that Jesus is the Son of God, and as such is known as the Bright and Morning Star.
As He is finishing up His revelation to the Apostle John, Jesus said,
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:16 NKJV)
As the Root and Offspring of David, Jesus directly references the promise of the coming Messiah as to who He would be, and that He would be both King and Lord as seen in the what the prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, said.
“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord … And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:1-2, 10 NKJV)
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jeremiah 23:5-6 NKJV)
But Jesus goes on and then says that He is also “the Bright and Morning Star.” Notice Jesus didn’t refer to Himself as a star, or a morning star, but “the” bright and morning star.
In Biblical times and early astronomy, the “Morning Star” was the brightest star in the eastern sky just prior to the dawn. Today, we know that this isn’t a star at all, but the planet Venus.
The word “planet” is derived from the word meaning, “to wander,” and was attached to what the ancients saw in the night sky because of their apparent motion, unlike the stars that were fixed. Therefore ancient astronomers referred to them as “wandering stars”
The Star that Jesus references, which we know now as the planet Venus, reveals both aspects of Jesus’ coming. The first being when Jesus came the first time and thus references prophecy fulfilled.
A Prophecy fulfilled: The Morning Star
Venus arises in the eastern sky in the early morning hours while it is still dark. Not long thereafter the sun will rise announcing the dawning of a new day.
This Morning Star is then the promise of a new day, and for those who live in darkness and have no hope for the future wondering what’s the point of living and wandering through life, Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star, brings that hope.
This was the purpose of the coming Messiah as foretold by the prophets.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2 NKJV)
And so Jesus represents the dawning of a new day, or the “DaySprings,” the place from which a new day springs forth.