The Star of Christmas Part 1

Series: Special Occasions

December 03, 2017
Brad Shockley

Episode Notes

If the name of the series is the star of Christmas, you can probably guess I’m going to take you to…

Matthew 2:1–11 (ESV) — 1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 

What’s interesting about this is in ancient times many influential people, philosophers and the like, were involved in astrology, in discerning things from the stars. Wise men here is translated form the Greek word magi, which means magicians. They would have been trained in the ancient art of astrology and most likely "priestly professionals involved in studying the stars and discerning the signs of the times. They may have come from Arabia, Babylon, or Persia.” 

Some believe they were from a people we know today as the Kurds, Muslims of which a huge population resides in Nashville. (The Kurdish janitor I met at a ball game and his surprising attitude).

It’s also interesting to know there was a belief in that day the birth and death of great kings or rulers would be marked by signs in the sky and in particular a belief those celestial events would mark the coming of a great ruler out of Judea. Even more so, ancient astrologers were going crazy over a rare and peculiar astronomical happening, the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.

When you put all that together, it’s no surprise wise men from the East were looking for signs heralding the birth of a great King in the area of Jerusalem. It’s also no surprise the currently reigning King of Judea would be worried…

3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “ ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ” 7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

For all you sci-fi fans out there it will bless you to know this was first Star Trek! And for all you who go crazy over Christmas it will probably damper your spirits a bit to know…

  • They wise men weren’t really kings. That’s legend.
  • They weren’t present at the manger. In verse 11 it says they went into the “house” where Joseph and Mary were staying. Jesus was likely two years old when they arrived.
  • They weren’t necessarily three in number; the Bible doesn’t say. Men means at least two. Three comes from the three gifts.

The debate on exactly what this star was has been legion over the centuries. Was it a natural event God used to signify Christ’s birth or a supernatural one? There are a lot of really cool things I could share about that, but, if we’re not careful we can get so caught up in them we miss what that star was really  trying to show us. 

Very simply, the star showed the magi the way to Jesus. And that’s of cosmic, this-changes-everything importance because Jesus shows us the way to God. Did you know that one his names is the Morning Star! Peter wrote in his letter to the churches…

2 Peter 1:19 (NLT) — 19 … You must pay close attention to what [the prophets] wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts.

Peter was referring to what the prophet Isaiah wrote 700 years before…

Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 (ESV) — 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. 

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

John the apostle said of Jesus at the beginning of his Gospel…

John 1:1–4 (ESV) — 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

And if that isn’t enough, Jesus said of himself…

John 8:12 (ESV) — 12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Now we rejoice over the positive side of that. Jesus is the light of the world! But we must reflect on the negative or else we’ll never understand what the Star of Christmas was trying to show us. The reason we need a light is because we are in darkness, deep darkness, as Isaiah put it.

Man thinks if he can crack the human genome and eradicate disease, if he can construct a moral framework not bound by religion, if he can educate enough people, the world will be free from pain and suffering.

But in reality that will never happen because the darkness Isaiah and John and Jesus spoke of is not physical darkness, obviously, but spiritual.  Time and time again history bears this out. In the early 1900s, all the thinkers, all the philosophers, all the scientists were walking around with their chests puffed out. They believed they were at the height of the age of enlightenment brought on by scientific and philosophical advances. There was actually talk of attaining world peace! 

And then World War I began. Millions died (17 million to be exact). The atrocities were horrendous. People like us either did that or watched it happen.

About 25 years later folks were thinking maybe now man can achieve his full potential with even more advacnes. But then World War II began and millions of Jews were exterminated like rats. People like us did that or watched it happen.

And here we are about 70 years later right back to thinking the same things. Utopia is just around the corner. We have iPhones for heaven’s sake! But daily the headlines rattle us into reality. Shootings, murders, suicides, racism, sexual harassment, human trafficking. We have gained access to more information, more education, in the last 10 years than all of history before it combined, and things are getting worse, not better. 

Science, reason, politics, or government will never be able to deal with the problem of evil that casts a dark shadow over all there is because that evil, that propensity to commit atrocities is a spiritual darkness residing in us all…

Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) — 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Psalm 53:2–3 (ESV) — 2 God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 3 They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

It is frightening to think within us dwell black seeds capable of producing a Hitler or a Charles Manson. Thankfully most of us will never become either (evidence of God’s grace at work in the world), but we will still have GREAT difficulty getting through life because of this present darkness. One pastor says…

“Society is a lot like a guy stumbling around in the dark … in pitch dark. Do you know what it’s like to do that? He is stumbling around in pitch dark. He is stumbling, and he is stubbing his feet and his hands, and he is falling down, and he is getting up all bloody. He says, “I know I’m hurt, but I don’t even know what hurt me! I know I’m bloody, but I’m not even sure what I’m up against. I can’t even tell.

“It’s not just society that’s like that. Individuals, we, are like that. We! Our lives in a sense could be looked at as people stumbling around in the pitch dark. We’re disoriented, in a moral blind. We don’t know what to do, and we make decisions, and somehow we find that it leaves us bloody emotionally and spiritually and morally and relationally. We’re not even sure what we hit or what hit us! We don’t even know. All we know is we’re bloodied.”

Recently, Google released the most “Why do” questions people Googled by state. 

South Carolina: Why do I sweat so much?

Alabama: Why do dogs lick?

Michigan: Why do I have diarrhea?

Tennessee: Why do fireflies glow?

Arizona: Why do people lie?

Florida: Why do I feel so alone?

We were made to be in relationship with God and nothing and no one on this earth can replace that. Without God we all ultimately feel alone. We can try filling that void with people, places, things, causes, etc. But it never works in the end.

You see, the darkness pervading the whole world is not just out there; it’s in here (the heart). It keeps us from knowing God. It’s been that way ever since Father Adam and Mother Eve rebelled against our Creator God and plunged us into night.

It would all be hopeless without a light to guide us, to rescue us. The star that led the wise men to Jesus reminds us that Jesus is the light of hope we need so badly to lead us out of the darkness into a relationship with God.

Peter, the disciple who called Jesus the Morning Star, wrote about this hope…

1 Peter 1:3–12 (ESV) — 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Did you get that last part? Things into which angels long to look. They were a huge part of the Christmas story, and yet it can never mean for them what it means for us. Like all of us, some angels rebelled against God and separated themselves from him, but unlike us there is no way back. Jesus didn’t die to deliver fallen angels from darkness, but he did for us, and it blows their heavenly minds.

This reminds me of an old hymn…

1. There is singing up in Heaven 

such as we have never known,

Where the angels sing the praises 

of the Lamb upon the throne,

Their sweet harps are ever tuneful, 

and their voices always clear,

O that we might be more like them 

while we serve the Master here!


Holy, holy, is what the angels sing,

And I expect to help them make the courts of Heaven ring; 

But when I sing redemption’s story, they will fold their wings, 

For angels never felt the joys that our salvation brings.

2. But I hear another anthem, 

blending voices clear and strong,

Unto Him who hath redeemed us 

and hath bought us, is the song;

We have come through tribulation 

to this land so fair and bright,

In the fountain freely flowing 

He hath made our garments white. [Refrain]

3. Then the angels stand and listen, 

for they cannot join the song,

Like the sound of many waters, 

by that happy, blood washed throng,

For they sing about great trials, 

battles fought and vict’ries won,

And they praise their great Redeemer, 

who hath said to them, Well done. [Refrain]

4. So, although I’m not an angel, 

yet I know that over there

I will join a blessèd chorus 

that the angels cannot share;

I will sing about my Savior, 

who upon dark Calvary

Freely pardoned my transgressions, 

died to set a sinner free. [Refrain]

Conclusion: The star that led the magi to the house of Mary and Jospeh led them to a living hope who is Jesus Christ, the light of the world who delivers us out of the darkness.

John also wrote of Jesus…

John 1:5 (ESV) — 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Let’s live like we have that light, that hope within us and show a lost world who that light and hope is this Christmas!

Do you have that light? That hope?

GOSPEL as a gift we must receive like the gifts under the tree.

Content Copyright Belongs to Pleasant View First Baptist Church