After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
- Matthew 2:1-12
I did the Starry Night by van Gogh (can’t say I ‘painted’ by numbers when I used my index fingers and thumbs) using the Happy Color App, and I thought of Christmas. I had used the Luke account for a couple of days this year, but I had not used the Matthew account. The Luke account focuses on the humility, the humble beginning, and the humanity of Jesus. The Matthew account focuses on the kingliness of Jesus, at least being given gifts by strangers from afar. I have heard that the three gifts tell the story of Jesus. Gold, as the King of kings. Frankincense, as the High Priest, unto the order of Melchizedek. And Myrrh, for burial after being the Prefect Lamb, the sacrifice for us.
Rick Larson, who researched the Star of Bethlehem (at bethlehemstar.com), developed a very thought-provoking video. It was the only video that I ever repeated while teaching the Video College of Biblical Knowledge (my Sunday school class). In this video, and at his website, he looks at the starry night leading up to Jesus’ conception, birth, and then about six months later, when the wise men came on or about December 25. During that time, the planet Jupiter does some very strange things. How can we know what Jupiter was doing back then? The Kepler’s equations of the movement of the stars has been reduced to a mathematical model and turned into a computer program (an App), and we can tell what star and what planet are in what spot on any day in history, from a viewpoint from any part of the planet. Mr. Larson read the texts, Biblical and historical, and he did the software research to find the star.
His conclusion is my only point to make. God loved us so much that before the dawn of time, He set the stars in place, so that the ‘star,’ seen by the Magi, would attract their attention, and, after traveling from ancient Babylon to the Holy Land, from Jerusalem, the star would go before them to Bethlehem and “stop” over where they would find Jesus. (I put stop in quotes, as Jupiter never stops, but from an earthly, fixed-point perspective as we look up at the stars (while the earth is spinning and Jupiter is in its own rotation around the sun), retrograde motion makes the distant planet seem to stop.)
God loving us while we were yet sinners seems odd. If it were not an odd concept, why do most people try to do good in order to impress God? (Something that does not work.) God knowing and loving us before time began seems even more odd. Time travel is only a fantasy for us, but God is outside time and space, a concept hard for us to grasp. Now, God knowing that Jesus would have to die on the cross, to save us from our sins, when the stars were set in motion and having those stars herald his birth… Not odd, mind-blowing. God set the stars in motion to tell us, every one of us, since we have Matthew to read, that He loves us and made a plan for us, specifically for each of us, before time began.
Praise the Lord, and a very Merry Christmas.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.