Every holiday season, a man living in the hills above my hometown lights a star of Bethlehem display. The star is over 20 feet high and, on clear nights, can be seen for miles around. Just a few years ago, an October fire tore through the foothills. My father, a firefighter, told me the house with the star was among the property lost to the flames. But despite personal loss, the star’s maker still lit the beacon that December.
For as long as I can remember that star has marked the beginning of the Christmas festivities. I see it on my way home from work and as I go about my holiday shopping. It is a simple, silent reminder of the hope Christ brought to the world over 2,000 years ago.
The original star, mentioned only in the Gospel of Matthew, stirs up much curiosity. What was the star? How did it guide the magi? And who were the magi anyway? Due to the popularity of this topic, RTB has created a special webpage devoted to the star of Bethlehem: reasons.org/christmasstar. The RTB scholars address common questions about the star and wise men and review various theories about these Advent figures.
I certainly appreciate the scholars’ unraveling at least part of this Christmas mystery. However, what stands out to me is astronomer Hugh Ross’ observation about the men who followed the famous star:
What strikes me as the most important point of the story is its illustration of the hope the magi placed in the promised Messiah. When I consider the magnitude of their commitment of time, energy, and treasure to seeking him out in order to bow before him, I pray that my response and yours will match theirs.
My own pastor recently pointed out that the magi’s journey likely lasted a year and a half. That’s one memorable road trip!
It makes me wonder if what made these fellows truly wise was their willingness and readiness to drop everything to go worship the Messiah, who was no more than two years old and living with peasant parents. The magi recognized the importance of this event and what it meant spiritually.
Whenever I see our own local star of Bethlehem shining on its hill, I think of the magi and their hope “placed in the promised Messiah.” It fills me with joy to remember that Christ came to take away death’s sting.