There is something at Christmas just for you this year. It’s not under the tree. It’s probably somewhere above and it’s been there a while. In fact, it has a way of leading us to this moment every year. Just like it led the Magi to Christ Jesus more than 2000 years ago.
Seems nobody saw the Star but the three Wise Men. Nobody else was drawn by it, talked about it and nobody else pursued it into the presence of the promised Messiah. Matthew says they rejoiced to see “the child” not the baby. By then Jesus was a good sized youngster. Even though he’d been around the house all that time none of his neighbors saw the star either.
So the only witnesses to this celestial wonder were the men who could see it. Isn’t it amazing what we can see when we look through the eyes of faith?
These Zoroastrian Astrologers and Astronomers, this Priestly Class of Persian experts in studying the Cosmos left everything in search of the promise and presence of something better than things best left alone. They chased this Star over the rivers of life, through the woods of living and beyond a lifetime of obstacles. Pursued him over distance and discouragement, recession and recovery, job cuts and new opportunities, through pain, pleasure and beyond obligation
Some scholars want to explain it away. They speculate the Star was “a supernova, a comet, the massing of planets and or a triple conjunction of Jupiter and Regulus.” Fascinating though each thought might be, none explains the who, what, when, why, where and how better than Mathew’s second chapter.
He always comes back to the lure of that Star. How they chased it away from the wrong people and the wrong influences. Our majestic friends kept chasing even after their times and circumstances took a turn for the worse. They didn’t stop chasing Jesus because the enemy played the “trump card.”
I’m told the “trump card” is part of the game of Bridge. It’s come to symbolize “a surprise person or thing that gives one group an advantage over the other.” Yet Matthew shows us how God has seen trump cards before. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery; David’s son betrayed him; and Delilah misled Sampson. So He’s seen the wrong people get in the right places over and over again.
The Magi’s trump card was King Herod. The murderous monarch who had all the wrong reactions to the right information. Information he learned only by accident. Yet along the way, all of God’s purposes were accomplished in spite of Herod. The Magi found Jesus, delivered gifts with eternal implications, worshiped him and were then sent home another way.
You see God specializes in flipping trump cards. In taking what can be meant for evil and using it for good. At Christmas, it’s easy for our nation to chase the wrong star, the star of hostility, of reactionary bullying, of self satisfaction, of selfishness and manufactured conflict. Or we can choose to keep trailing a familiar, more than celestial old friend.
This Star From On High is sent to lead us into right relationship with the savior and each other. The evidence of that relationship is carved into the DNA of our nation’s heart and soul. It’s written on our most valuable commodity. “In God We Trust” is what we live and spend by. So why would we even think about chasing a misguided star?
God did it all with The Star only those who sought Him could see. The Cosmic Wonder He sends even now, just for you and me. Perhaps it is the most personal gift of all at Christmas. The blessed assurance that through all the chaos and uncertainty He will take us home “by another way,” His way. And that will make all the difference.
Dennis Edwards is an Emmy Award Winning Investigative Television Journalist who’s worked in Detroit, Baltimore, St. Louis, Richmond and as a Freelance Correspondent for CNN. He’s a graduate of Virginia Union University and its Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology.