The wise men and the star

Following yonder star?

The Nativity by Matthew – Part 3

Matthew icon
Oh, star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright.
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide with thy perfect light.

The star led the wise men, we all know the story but did it actually lead them, and if so how come it led them the wrong way, to Jerusalem, rather than to Bethlehem? Did the star lead then the wrong way?

The simple solution is that the star did not lead them at all, at least not in a physical way as depicted on Christmas cards,

wise men card

They followed the star after they had visited Jerusalem, it led them to Bethlehem. Before that, they were not so much following the star as going directly away from it. They were from the east and saw the star rise to the east of them, then they went to Jerusalem.

Although they were not physically following the star they were following the meaning of it. Magi, from the same root as the word magic, were astrologers who were watching the stars for signs. I would advise against Christians doing astrology as putting hope in the positions of planets takes our sight away from where our hope comes from. From God.

Matthew is building bridges here. The genealogy was a bridge back into the Old Testament, to the time of David and to Abraham. Here the bridge is to Gentiles, people who were neither of the people of God, nor believers in God.

This bridge says that access to God is not just for the Jews, it is open to all, everyone is welcome. That means you. The meaning of the star is that God has come to live with us, God is not distant, but close to us. Following the star means following this meaning

Archbishop of York John Sentamu Tweeted on 7th December 2018, “ doesn’t ask us to be perfect. It says: “Come just as you are to take the life-changing Christmas journey.”

If you want the story as told in the Bible, here it is:

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.

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.
Matthew 2:1-3 & 9-10


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