by | Dec 9, 2021 | Christmas, Fear, Leadership

Jaime Hlavin joins the blog once again today with an insightful post about Christmas, taking risks, and our personal obedience to Jesus. Enjoy!

At the time of Christ’s birth, the book of Matthew gives the account of a star rising to announce the birth of Christ—the arrival off God incarnate, in the flesh. At that point in time, some folks from the east, saw an unusual celestial body and began the trek to find the Savior. They showed up to the home of Mary and Joseph sometime later.

Regarding the star, some theologians say it was the North Star. Some say it was an entirely supernatural occurrence that took place outside the realm of normal, natural celestial things. And some say that there is actually scientific, astronomical, and historical evidence to support this account. During the stretch of time corresponding with the moment of Christ’s birth and the arrival of the Magi, there was an astronomical event known as a triple conjunction that created a pretty spectacular phenomenon. And that conjunction also lines up with the year of the census in Judea (which was written about by a 5th century historian).

The Magi are often referred to as the Wise Men or the “Three” Kings. Scripture doesn’t actually tell us how many there were—but early church tradition blew up pretty quickly around these guys. They probably latched on to the concept of three gifts for Jesus (Gold, Frankincense and myrrh) and clung to the idea of three—and they even have names in tradition (Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar—again not in scripture). And they were venerated pretty quickly by the Catholic church, and even have a holiday of their own: Epiphany or Three Kings Day.

But in all actuality, based on scripture and historic text, they were most likely trusted advisors to a king (and not royalty themselves). Kings of that time were in the habit of gathering the best and brightest into an advisory board. The Magi’s responsibilities included reading the stars, as well as hosts of wisdom-seeking work. This particular group came from “the east” . . . which was most likely the ancient Arabian kingdom of Sheba . . . some think Babylon even.

Regardless of all the speculative details, based on scripture we know this to be true: The star appeared and spurred something on in the Magi; a sense of obedience that compelled them to do the next right thing. When a star rises in our lives, we can use the examples in this portion of scripture to help guide our own obedience. In breaking down this portion of scripture, several observations can be made:

1. “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.” (Matthew 2:1-2)

Observation: The Magi acted on what they perceived as a clear message, directive or leading from the Lord not knowing exactly what it meant or what the journey would be like. They followed the star in faith as an act of obedience. And following it occurred in the darkness. At night when stars appear. When a “star rises” in our lives that the Lord is asking us to follow, obedience is required to step out in faith when we don’t know what the journey will look like. Often, that journey can seem dark all around us.

2. “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’” (Matthew 2: 3-8)

Observation: King Herod did not like what the Magi were doing and attempted to thwart their goal. Often, when we step out to follow a star, our obedience disturbs others. They may find it unsettling because it doesn’t make sense and may even try to derail or kill our obedience (Vv. 16: “When Herod realized he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.”)

3. “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. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” (Matthew 2:9-12)

Observation: The Magi kept on the journey until they reached the end result—the star above the house where Jesus was. And they worshipped him with their gifts. When following the star God has placed before us, it’s crucial to carry on obediently until you reach your final destination, but in the process – bringing the very best of you through your acts of worship and your gifts (spiritual). Sometimes obedient faith journeys are so uncertain that we lose track of the object of our worship and the giver of all good gifts.

4. “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’” (Matthew 2:13-15)

Observation: After the Magi completed their task, the fulfillment of a prophecy was activated. Joseph took Mary and Joseph to Egypt to keep them safe. The act of obediently following the star placed in one’s life will result in the fulfillment of God’s purposes.

Has a star risen in your life that God is calling you to follow? Is he asking you to step out in faith and obediently begin the journey when the path is unclear and the future unknown? If so, may I encourage you this Christmas season to reflect on how following the star may seem troubling at first, but obedience to doing so will reveal Christ to those in dark places and ultimately fulfill His purposes.

We’re praying and rooting for you during this Advent season!