Summary: This passage deals with the myth that the Magi followed the Star of Bethlehem all the way to Jerusalem. In truth, the star disappeared and then reappeared after they were in Jerusalem. The message applies this phenomenon to the way that God often guides
STAR OF BETHLEHEM MYTH: The Magi followed the star from their homes all the way to Jesus.
- This is the version of the story that we’ve seen shared in countless Christmas plays, movies, and cards.
- And, as we’re going to be discussing at several points in this series, the fact that that’s the way we’ve always seen it portrayed does not necessarily mean that’s the story that’s in the Bible.
THE BIBLICAL TRUTH: Before disappearing, the star let them know the next step was to go to Jerusalem.
- Matthew 2:1-2, 9-10.
- How we know this is true:
a. They traveled west.
- The star appeared in the east (v. 2), yet they were wise men from the east (v. 1).
- Coming from the east means they would have traveled west. If the star was in the east, they couldn’t have followed it.
b. They traveled to Jerusalem because it’s the capital of Israel.
- The star let them know that someone had been born King of the Jews (v. 2). So they knew the next step was to go to Jerusalem because that was the capital of Israel.
- If they’d been following a star, they wouldn’t have had to go to Jerusalem and ask where the king was (v. 2) – they could have just followed the star to the king.
c. Herod asked them what time the star had appeared instead of asking the Magi to point the star out to him.
- In v. 7, Herod calls them secretly and asks them when the star appeared. The fact that he doesn’t ask them to show him the star is an indication that the star was not then visible, like it would have been in the Magi had been following it the whole time.
- It also indicates that it had been some time since the star had been seen, since Herod is asking about the time frame. I would presume that the star probably appeared, they saw it and realized its meaning, then they began planning their trip and it disappeared before they set out.
d. After they left Jerusalem, the star reappeared.
- They started out following the advice that the guys in Jerusalem gave them only to have the star reappear (v. 9). Seeing the star again filled them with joy (v. 10).
- They headed out with the only piece of information they had: someone had been born King of the Jews.
- That meant their next step was to travel to Jerusalem, so that’s what they did.
- It’s pretty amazing when you think of the fact that they started this huge journey with only this one piece of information.
- Let me be clear: I’m not saying the Bible is wrong. I’m saying that our Christmas plays are wrong.
- The way the Bible describes the story makes perfect sense, but we’ve altered the Christmas story to fit the kids’ plays that we usually do.
HOW GOD LEADS US IN OUR LIVES: God often only gives enough light for the next step.
- A big question: what can you do based on what you’re sure of?
- Sometimes we think we have to wait until all the pieces of the puzzle are in place. We don’t. Do what you know to do based on the information that you have.
- Why does God operate this way?
a. It would probably overwhelm us with fear if He told us the whole story.
- For example, in this situation, if the Magi were told, “You’re going to be a part of a political power struggle in a foreign land that will result in an angry king and a bloody, cruel slaughter,” they’re answer would likely have been, “No, thanks.” Yet they were a necessary and needed part of the story.
b. It is a walk of faith.
- This is part of what “stepping out in faith” means.
c. What’s in front of us is generally enough to handle.
- Ask the question: “What’s my next step?”
- The picture will not be complete when you take your first step.
- Trust God with the road map. He’ll give you the next turn.
- They left not knowing what dusty little town they’d end up. It might be Jerusalem where the king was, but it might also be some other place.
- And, sure enough, it was a dusty little town, although not the one that usually say it was – but more on that in an upcoming sermon in this series.
- Sometimes we use this as an excuse to do nothing. “Once God makes everything clear, then I’ll step out.” Well, if one of the things is clear, then you need to move on that.
- Some examples: