The Star of Bethlehem (Repost – 2010)

Star of Bethlehem, Magi - wise men or wise kin...
Image by Wonderlane via Flickr

I am not a fan of Christmas, but as I have said before, it is a time which many focus on Christ. On the sights that you see this time of year is the star of Bethlehem. I am not going to get into the science of the star, if indeed there be such a unique event in the skies during that time, but there was a star of some sort which brought the Magi of the East to look for the birth of the King:

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking,

“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”

King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” ”

In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’ ”

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! (Mat 2:1-10 NLT)

Augustine, in his second book against Fautus, says,

Christ was not born because the star was there; but the star was there because Christ was born. If there was any fate, it was in the birth, and not in the star. The word fate is derived from a word which means to speak; and since Christ is the Word of God by which all things were spoken before they were, the conjunction of stars is not the fate of Christ, but Christ is the fate of the stars. The same will that made the heavens took our earthly nature. The same power that ruled the stars laid down His life and took it again.

If it is so well thought, we may connect the star over the small town to the star prophesied by Balaam,

I see him, but not here and now. I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel. It will crush the foreheads of Moab’s people, cracking the skulls of the people of Sheth. (Num 24:17 NLT)

We should think, no matter the season  – pretended or otherwise – what manner of star it was that called the men from the East. As well, we should think of our own call this season – we are called to come to God, a journey, no doubt that mimics the travels of the wise men. So many assume that nothing is left for us to do except to accept Christ, as He has done the work, yet, we should stand with the Magi, in that we see the star in the East. They traveled, even after Christ had come all this way, to adore Him, to praise Him, and to give of themselves to Him.

We echo John Chrysostom’s words here,

Let Marcion and Paul of Samosata then blush, who will not see what the Magi saw, those progenitors of the Church adoring God in the flesh. That He was truly in the flesh, the swaddling clothes and the stall prove; yet that they worshipped Him not as mere man, but as God, the gifts prove which it was becoming to offer to a God. Let the Jews also be ashamed, seeing the Magi coming before them, and themselves not even earnest to tread in their path.

Let us not be ashamed this season, or any other, to heed the call to worship our Lord and Saviour. Just as had those 2000 years ago, Christ has told us where He is found, if we are wise enough to search for Him.

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Post By Joel Watts (9,928 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, working on the use of Deuteronomy in the Fourth Gospel. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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4 thoughts on The Star of Bethlehem (Repost – 2010)

  1. “Let Marcion and Paul of Samosata then blush, who will not see what the Magi saw, those progenitors of the Church adoring God in the flesh.”

    I’m sure Marcion would blush for having deprived MAGICIANS of being able to see God born by an unnatural birth. (sarcasm)

    Marcion believed Jesus descended from heaven fully grown already having his flesh, much as Jesus is made to describe it in John 6 “I am the bread that came down from heaven…the bread is my flesh” (i.e. I came down from heaven already having my flesh). In this way Marcion deprived a couple of MAGICIANS from seeing an unnatural birth. Oh boo hoo.

  2. Well Joel, you said you wont get into the “science of the star” but that you are certain “there was a star of some sort which brought the Magi of the East to look for the birth of the King.” On what evidence does this certainty rest? Only Matthew records it and nobody else, unless you count commentaries on Matthew as somehow independent verification. (smurk) Do you base this certainty on Matthew’s perfect track record of always telling us the truth? Since he was obvious perfectly correct about the Zombified corpses of the OT saints rising from the graves when Jesus died but staying there like good dogs until Jesus also arose and then showing themselves in the city (also recorded by nobody else) and then doing only God know what (dying again?) And since his constant twisting of OT scripture to force it to be prophecies of Jesus and his making up a prophecy out of thin air (“he shall be called a Nazarene”) are obviously so exactly on the mark. Well, I guess we just have to bend all the laws of nature to make a start appear there in Bethlehem. Its just not possible that someone as perfectly accurate as Matthew could be wrong. Especially since we are 100% certain that’s his real name.

    • You sure are cool (sarcasm).

      Most likely, following traditional methods of theological storytelling, the star was an angel, btw.

      As far as the ‘OT saints’ (doesn’t specify that, actually, but you do seem to add to scripture a bit anyway), you need to read some better explanations of what happened. Further, he didn’t ‘fit’ ‘prophecies’ to Christ. Instead, he interpreted the life of Christ by the Old Testament. Duh.

      Not sure you point, but wow (smurk).

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