The Star of the Wise Men

The Truth About Christmas

by Bob Burridge ©2010

This article continues a series of studies about the events surrounding the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. The series begins with, Called To Bethlehem. There is also a complete index for all the articles telling The Truth About Christmas.

Part 11 The Star of the Wise Men

In Matthew 2:2 we read the account of the wise men who came to worship Jesus, the one born King of the Jews. They came to Jerusalem, not to Bethlehem. Jerusalem was the capital city where they would have expected to find a king. They came to Herod and asked, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”

God sent this very special star to bring these men to Jesus. It appeared on the night Jesus was born. Somehow, God used it to reveal to them that the promised King of the Jews had been born. Ages ago, during the Jewish Captivity in Babylon, Daniel the Prophet lived there. He had become one of the Magoi (wise scholars) of Babylon. His influence and teachings were probably passed down in the traditions of those scholars. He would have told about the Promised One, the Messiah, who would be born to the Jews.

Every year poorly informed news broadcasters and newspapers interview astronomers trying to look for some natural explanation for this star that appeared when Jesus was born. From the descriptions we have of its appearance and movement, it could not have been an actual star, a comet, a super-nova, or a conjunction of planets. The natural explanations unbelievers read into the story don’t fit the facts in the Bible.

The original word translated as “star” is aster (αστηρ), which simply means a light in the sky. It was a word sometimes used to describe stars, planets, meteors, comets, or any bright object in the sky.

Notice that the Bible doesn’t say that the star lead them there. They didn’t even come to Bethlehem after they saw it. They went to Jerusalem, a natural place to come looking for a Jewish King. The image of three kings following a star across the deserts is pure fiction. The Bible does not tell the story that way.

It was as they left Jerusalem to go to Bethlehem that the star appeared again and led them. Matthew 2:9-10 says, “When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.”

No actual star, meteor, comet ,or conjunction of planets could behave that way. It appeared while they were in the East. Then appeared again almost a year later to guide them south from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. It pointed out the actual place where Jesus was living. No natural explanation could account for that. This was a special light sent from God unlike anything we have observed in nature.

There is no star mentioned appearing over Bethlehem on the night of Jesus’ birth. The star was seen by the wise men while they were back in the East on that night. It may or may not have been visible from Bethlehem or from Jerusalem on the night of his birth.

It was only after they left Jerusalem to go to Bethlehem that the same supernatural light in the sky guided them to the home where Jesus was then living.

Next Study: The Worship of the Wise Men

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About Bob Burridge

I've taught Science, Bible, Math, Computer Programming and served 25 years as Pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Pinellas Park, Florida. I'm now Executive Director of the ministry of the Genevan Institute for Reformed Studies

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