After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. – Matthew 2: 9
On Dec. 3, 2012, St. James Palace announced Catherine (Kate) the Duchess of Cambridge was expecting her first child.
On July 22, 2013, Prince George Alexander Louis, son of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and the duchess was born, first grandson of Charles and Diana. The pomp and ceremony during the pregnancy, the birth and its announcement endless and drew world attention to Prince George.
The birth of Jesus had no such pomp or ceremony. Jesus was the promise of a nation, prophesied about, prayed for, hoped for, yet His coming into the world was barely noticed by people. His birth took place in an obscure cave.
Did you know Baby Jesus and His parents lived in Bethlehem for nearly two years, with no real notice of Him until the time of the Magi’s visit?
So who were the Magi? They were Gentiles – Persian magicians. Among the Persians, they were philosophers – priests – and in fact no king of Persia could be so named, if they were not first a part of the Magi. The Magi dealt in the unlawful arts, sorcery and astrology. They were Christ’s first victory over evil. Though devoted to darkness, they traveled far to become the early adorers of Jesus’ light.
It took these three wise men, following Christ’s star, coming to worship Him, to draw world attention to Him. What made them come? These star-gazers had seen an extraordinary comet-like star the night of Christ’s birth so far off that it took two years to get to Him.
Guided by Christ’s star, the Magi followed the star until it paused briefly while they discussed the exact time of Christ’s birth with Herod (Matthew 2:7). Afterward, the star led them to the “house” where the baby lay (Matthew 2:11).
Jesus was born in the 35th year of the reign of Herod, called the Great, an Edomite King. He was full of falsehood and was known for his cruelty. In fact after the Magi’s visit, he issued a decree that all Jewish male children 2 years old and under were to be killed.
If the Son of God must come into the world, one would have expected He would receive some official ceremony, be given a crown and have a scepter laid at His tiny feet. Instead, Christ was born in a manger, wrapped in rags, like the homeless child he was, and born to working-class parents.
He came into the world and the world knew Him not. He came to His own and His own received Him not.
The first to take local notice were the shepherds (Luke 2:15). Why? Because Christ was to be Shepherd, Leader, to all God’s people, black, brown, white, red and yellow. Further, it was the shepherds who first spread the word about Him (Luke 2:20).
After this, at His circumcision in the Temple, Simeon, a righteous man, through the power of the Holy Spirit knew Him and the prophetess Anna spoke of Him (Luke 2:33-38). Both saw Him as the Redeemer of Jerusalem. One would think after all these hints of a new Jewish King the people would have taken notice.
To both groups, the shepherds and the Magi, God spoke to them in their own language. Some think the light the shepherds saw around Baby Jesus the night of his birth was the same light which created the comet-like star the Wise Men saw from thousands of miles away.
One can suspect that one day Prince George will be a good king of England but the real king is the King of Glory, Jesus. Are you one who has traveled a long journey to follow Christ’s star, one who is now ready to come and worship Him?
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door UCC in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org.