Summary: There is great significance to each of us in the star that was above Jesus’ birth place.
The Christmas Star
December 20, 2003
Perhaps the best known symbol of this season is the star of Bethlehem. It is common for trees to be crowned with a star on the top, and with lights which shine as the stars in the sky under the special star of Bethlehem. I remember, growing up, the stars that we put on the top of our Christmas tree. For awhile, it was one that Mom had made with cardboard and aluminum foil- this one was taped to the top of the tree for several years. Then we got one that actually attached to the top of the tree branches, and that was the one that was with us for more years. In addition to the star and the star-like lights, the tree was covered with silver tinsel to add to the shimmer and the glow of the star lights. The star was important to our tree for the 18 Christmases I had growing up in Manitoba.
The star of Bethlehem is introduced very simply in the gospel of Matthew.
Matt.2.1-2-10- this star was a source of incredible joy to the wise men from the east. They, as astrologers, likely, saw something special in the sky and, knowing something, obviously, of the anticipation of the time, followed that star to its special place over where Jesus was living. They called it ‘his star’ and it is understood that it was likely a comet or a meteor. As we know, these can be seen for some time in the sky. This one was specially prepared and it did a special and wonderful job. This star figures prominently in the telling of the nativity story in this gospel written to and for the Jews to persuade them that Jesus was, indeed, the anticipated and expected Messiah. This star- this specially placed star- pointed particular people to Jesus, the Messiah.
In this star’s role, we see a pattern that God has consistently followed and into which pattern we enter, as Christians of the 21st century.
1. The star of Bethlehem pointed people to Jesus and drew attention to Jesus and helped people to Jesus. It led to questions and declarations and upset, as well, as Jesus began to become known. Not only did the wise men learn about Jesus and follow the star, but leaders- both religious and secular- learned about the birth of Jesus and, in the case of Herod and Jerusalem, were deeply troubled by the news. They didn’t know what to make of it or what to do with it, and they reacted as paranoid people tend to, with fear and animosity. However, the wise men responded with worship and joy.
This is not the only physical matter that God used to draw attention to Jesus and to help people to approach Him.
2. God uses scripture to point to Jesus, draw attention to Jesus, and help people to Jesus.
2 Pet.1.16-21- we have the more sure word of teaching and preaching. We have the message that declares that what the prophets foretold HAS come true and that coming true has occurred in Jesus Christ. Peter is declaring what he had seen and the certainty that brought to his faith and should bring to those who learned from him, including us. Everything of scripture pointed to Jesus- in what was written prior to Jesus’ coming. Also, everything written since Jesus points to Him, as well.
Peter speaks of the light and the day dawning and the day star rising in your hearts. In all this, he is declaring Jesus.
Rev.22.16- Jesus IS the bright day star. He is the one that all scripture declares. He is the focus of every word written, and every idea expressed. He is the fulfillment of all. He is the one that all points toward in God’s very special word.
3. In another case, God used John to point to Jesus, draw attention to Jesus, and help people to Jesus.
John 1.1-5, 6-18- John bore witness to the Light. John was very much aware of his position. He recognized that he was to present or to introduce the Light, which was Jesus. All the respect and following he gained, as he had during his ministry, was for this purpose.
Matt.3.1-6- notice that he had no small following. He was an unusual person, but a popular person. People listened to him. All Judea went out after him, we’re told. It was huge crowds that he had around him as he baptized people at the Jordan River. John understood his place in God’s purpose and was delighted to be who and what and where he was.
John 3.25-30, 31-36- especially, verse 30. John knew that what he had been given was not to bring any particular glory to himself. We do know, however, that Jesus declared that John was the greatest person born of woman, so gave him great honour. However, John did not take, assume, or presume such honor to himself. He recognized that he had a role in life and that role was not to build a church for himself. That purpose was not to build a ministry. That purpose was not to build a name for himself. That purpose was not to have fame and wealth for himself. That purpose WAS to draw attention to Jesus. He was to proclaim Jesus. He was to lift up Jesus. He was to elevate Jesus and diminish himself. What a role to be in, and what a difficult role to be in. John is a pattern, after the star of Bethlehem and after scripture, too. He draws focus to Jesus.