Summary: A message about the reaction of the wise men to the star of Bethlehem. The joy they experienced must be ours when we worship Jesus.
Lanier Christian Church
December 21, 2014
Star of Wonder
There are a lot of symbols at the Christmas season. All represent something. Santa Claus, mistletoe, wreaths, candles, etc. I've always admired the beauty of poinsettias, and decided to do a little research on them. You may know that they were named after Joel Poinsett, who happened to be the minister to Mexico, and a native of South Carolina. He introduced them to America in 1825. In Mexico the poinsettia is called "Flor de Noche Buena" (Christmas Eve flower).
It is truly the quintissential Christmas plant. When you see them appear in the stores, you know that Christmas is not far away. Traditionally, the star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.
Just as this beautiful plant draws our attention to Christmas, the star over Bethlehem drew the attention of learned Magi (wise men). Although it may have been nearly two years before they arrived at the town of Jesus' birth, still they were drawn to him. The Magi came to a house, says the Bible, not a stable or a cave. So, they were not there on the night of Jesus' birth, although they sure look good in those nativity scenes we have in our homes and churches!
God has always used signs - special events and miracles - to point people to Him. The common people, especially those caught up in a world of poverty and struggle.... people such as the shepherds, received their sign: "This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)
Certainly not the norm...a baby placed in a feeding trough for animals. It drew the attention of the shepherds. They knew this was a special child that had been born. And so, God led common men, uneducated and the lowest class of society, to come and worship the Christ child.
But God was concerned about people on the other end of the social spectrum too. So, God provided in his creative handiwork a sign from the starry host, a sign noticed by the scientific men of the day. A sign perhaps only those who studied the cosmos could possibly understand. The educated ones, those who had all they needed in life, were going to receive their sign too.
The star, Regulus was known as the "king star."
It is the major star closest to the sun. Astronomers of the first century must have known not only the movement of that star, but the prophecies associated with it. Perhaps these Magi knew the passage in Numbers 24:17 - "A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel." Some astronomers have studied this and found that there was indeed some unique alignments of the stars and planets near the time of Jesus' birth. And so these scientists of the day followed the unique movements of this divinely placed celestial body. (for more info see "The Real Star of Bethlehem" from the Griffith observatory - google search)
As they followed the star, they knew its meaning: a king had been born! In seeking the king, they asked Herod, the current ruler of Judea, where the new king had been born. I would assume a king would be born in a palace, a prince, the son of another king, wouldn't you?
Herod called together all of his religious scholars and learned the news that Bethlehem would be the place of this king's birth. He shared this with the wise men and off they went to find the king.
Why did the Magi go to Bethlehem? Why did the shepherds go to the stable or cave? Why did the uneducated, the poor, AND the scholarly and wealthy all follow a divinely placed sign? For one purpose: Worship.
Matthew 2:2 records the question of the Magi: "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." God has always used signs to point us in the right direction and He certainly used signs surrounding the birth of Jesus to point the most learned and the most common toward a Savior that was deserving of worship.
We have a beautiful poinsettia in our home. And so I thought: Perhaps the poinsettia is a sign for me. The starry like petals and the blood red color remind me that I, too, am being pointed toward worship. A savior has been born that gave his life for me.
Just the thought of that caused me to bow in worship and prayer, thankful for the sign of a poinsettia, that reminds me of how God uses all facets of his creation to draw all people of every nation and every level of society to himself.