Summary: Jesus is the "star" of Scripture and he is to be the star of our life. Is it he we are following or a star of our own making?
“What’s in the stars for you?” Perhaps you remember seeing this huge front-page horoscope in the Edmonton Journal a few days ago. It may seem laughable to us that anyone would live his or her life by the “dictates of the stars” but the fact that the newspaper paid for the information and then gave it front-page prominence says that someone must be paying attention.
If you’re not into following the horoscope, and I hope you’re not, what stars do you follow? Are you chasing after the rising star of the hottest mutual fund, banking on your own star appeal to bring you good fortune in 2002, or has stardust made you blind to everything around you except that special someone? The Holy Spirit wants to convince you this morning that there is only one star worth following, the star of the Bible – Jesus Christ.
We’ll learn about this star from Matthew’s gospel. Unlike Luke, who describes Jesus’ birth in some detail, Matthew simply says that Jesus is born and then quickly describes how his birth affected the world around him. And what an effect it had! Matthew reports, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 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).
Who were these Magi? Where did they come from? How many were there? We don’t know the answers to those questions. What we do know is that they weren’t Jewish, that they found out about the birth of Jesus through a special star, and that it wasn’t mere curiosity that brought them to Jesus; the Magi came to worship. That tells us that these Magi knew that Jesus was not just another king but the long expected King of kings. In effect, the Magi were the first to fulfill the Old Testament prophecy that was read to you this morning. “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn” (Is. 60:3).
But now how would these foreigners have known about the King of kings and his importance to them as their Saviour? Well, if these Magi had come from Babylon or Persia, (present day Iraq and Iran) they could have learned about the promised Saviour from teachings passed down to them from the prophet Daniel. That’s not as far-fetched as it may sound because about 570 B.C. Daniel was appointed head of the Magi in Babylon and held other important government posts for 60 years (Daniel 2:48). Since Daniel wasn’t shy about sharing and living his faith he no doubt affected the lives of magi for generations to come. Friends, don’t ever underestimate the importance of sharing your faith. You never know how many people will be affected by it.
But now what about this star the Magi followed to the Christ-child? What was it exactly? Some have said that that the star was really a comet or a couple of planets lined up together to guide the Magi but neither explain how the star appeared and disappeared and then guided the Magi to the exact house where Jesus was. To do that the star had to be low enough in the sky so that it would distinguish the house that Jesus was in from the other houses around it. Therefore we’ll simply say that this star was some bright object in the heavens God specially used to guide the Magi to Jesus.
The star does reveal something about Jesus; it tells us that he is so glorious and wonderful that even the stars in the heavens must serve him. Therefore it’s foolish for us to turn to the stars and hope that they can share with us some hidden message about our future. The stars in the heavens do speak all right, they tell us that there is a powerful and wise God and he is the one that we should worship and honour, not the stars he created (Psalm 19:1-4).
When King Herod heard about the Magi’s quest to find a newborn king he was greatly disturbed. A star is born? That’s not the kind of thing Herod liked to hear for he didn’t tolerate co-stars in his life. Perhaps you remember from last Sunday’s sermon how he killed at least one wife and a couple of sons because he thought they were trying to take his throne. The Romans were right when they said, “Better Herod’s sow (u|") than Herod’s son (uiJov").”
While we’re not surprised by Herod’s reaction to the news of Jesus’ birth, Jerusalem’s response was curious. Matthew says that all of Jerusalem was disturbed along with Herod (v. 3). You think that they would be overjoyed at the news. The Messiah had come! Hadn’t they been dying to hear that news? Actually that’s what they were afraid of, dying because one could never be sure what a hysterical Herod would do. From Jerusalem’s point of view, things would have been better had the Magi never showed up, had Jesus never been born.