Summary: Can you name the top two Christmas lighted "tree toppers?" Do you know why they grace most Christmas Trees? And do you know the kind of light that Jesus prefers?
OPEN: In many homes across the US, and around the world various families have set up Christmas trees. And these trees have all kinds of lights and ornaments on them But there is one decoration that stands out from the rest, because it sits on top of the tree, all by itself. It’s called a tree topper.
As I was researching this sermon I visited a blog that was selling some of these tree toppers and the variety astounded me (we put pictures of these different treetoppers on the screen as they were mentioned):
Some were wintery decorations. Things like:
* Ginger bread men
* Spires that looked like the steeples of Russian church buildings.
Then, there were some peculiar decorations that still had a Christmas connection.
* I found a few that featured Elvis (Blue Christmas)
* And at least 3 Grinches.
BUT perhaps the oddest tree toppers of all were:
* A “Peace” Sign
* Glinda... the good witch from Wizard of Oz
* and (pause) YODA!
“Christmas will come, it will”
Now I have no idea what those last four decorations had to do with Christmas, but I do know that none of those decorations came even close to competing with the top two choices for tree toppers.
Can anyone guess what the two most popular are?
(Angels and Stars).
Why would these be on top of Christmas trees?
Because they are both part of the Biblical story of Christmas. The angels announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds and the star led the wise men to Him
APPLY: Today I want to focus on one of those two tree toppers - the Star of Bethlehem
Stars have been one of the main decorations of Christmas trees since the beginning.
It’s said that Martin Luther began the tradition of having a Christmas tree and that he put candles on the tree for his children to give them the impression of stars in the sky day Jesus born. Ever since that day, the Star has been one of the most favorite decorations for Christmas trees
The story of the star only occurs in Matthew, chapter 2.
We’re told that “Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 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.’” Matthew 2:1-2
And that “... the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.” Matthew 2:9
Now, Scholars disagree about what type of star this was.
* Some believe it was a meteor. But a meteor would have burned out long before the Magi arrived.
* Others have thought it was a comet. But comets generally inspired fear, not worship. A comet wouldn’t have drawn men to a King... it would have frightened them away.
* Still others have speculated this star was a super nova (an exploding star), but aside from the fact that a supernova wouldn’t have lasted long enough for the Magi to have made the trip, there is no record of super nova occurring at that time.
One major theory that has some possibility is that the star was result of the line up of 3 planets Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars. This happens about every 1000 years, and would likely have happened around the birth of Christ. Their collective brightness would have lit up the night. BUT we’re left with the problem of a “star” that moved and eventaully “stopped over the place where the child was.”
ILLUS: Probably one of the best explanations was offered 2 respected scholars: Alfred Edersheim and Dwight Pentecost. They suggested that the Greek word translated "star" really means "radiance" and they said the word was simliar to the Old Testament word used describing the "fire" from the burning bush described in Exodus 3.
They also made another observation so that the characteristics of this star was reminiscient of the comment in Ezekiel 11:23. "The glory of the Lord went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it."
The Glory of the Lord moved... Kind of sounds like our moving "star" - doesn’t it?
Ezekiel tells us the "glory of the Lord" left the Temple of God and it never returned..And it wasn’t mentioned again until Luke tells us, "an angel of the Lord appeared to (the shepherds) and the glory of the Lord shone around them" (Luke 2:9). It’s very possible the star represented the return of the glory of God to Israel.
Now I’m not a great theologian... and I really don’t care what that star was... but this much I know:
There was a star.
And it led the wise men to the place where Jesus was.