By Brock Bondurant
“… we observed his star at its rising,” – Matthew 2:2
The Gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke are known, especially at this time of year, for their portrayals of Jesus’ birth. But John also has his own birth narrative—well, sort of. In Revelation 12, John describes the birth of the Messiah. However, this account appears as an astronomical event: “A great portent appeared in the heavens…” (Revelation 12:1). There is a dragon and a battle—a lot is going on! But this sign in the sky can give us insight about how to think about the star that appeared and guided the three wise men in Matthew 2.
It can be assumed that these magi from the East came from Babylon. Babylon was known for its astrological acumen. The study of stars is found throughout Scripture. One of the most faithful Hebrew men in all the Bible, Daniel, came to be chief astrologer of Babylon. Through his wisdom and devotion to God, he became “chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon,” (Daniel 2:48). Notice that these astronomers are even known by the same name in the Old and New Testament: “wise men.”
In following the star, the wise men from Babylon found baby Jesus, the one who would be ruler of the heavens and of the earth. St. Athanasius, in the early 300s, writes that “it was fit that the Word, coming down from heaven, should have his constellation also from heaven, and it was fitting that the king of creation when he came forth should be openly recognized by all creation. Why, he was born in Judea, and men from Persia came to worship him.”
The miracle of all miracles, according to C.S. Lewis, was that the God of the universe would become incarnate as one of us. The wise men were expectant of such a miracle. They were watching, waiting, anticipating this sign to appear at the precise time that it did, expecting to encounter this prophesied king at the end of their venture. They continued to look up, and this time of year, invites us to do the same. We look up to the God of the stars, the author of Creation, in anticipation of a great light.
And this advent, we look to Jesus, similarly expectant for the countless miracles—outnumbering the very stars—that his life has made possible. We wait expectantly, ready for Jesus’ kingdom reign to make the earth as it is in the heavens. With Christmas drawing near, and the stars shining bright, let us look up and eagerly pray as wise people: Come, Lord Jesus.