“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time King Herod, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, ‘Where is the one born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him?’ (Mathew 2:1, 2, NET)
There is much debate concerning the nature, origin, and significance of the “Star of Bethlehem.” The three wise men, who were also astrologers, observed the Star as it was rising in the East. The Star led them to Jerusalem and was no longer visible. So, they inquired at the royal palace where is the child born king. Why were the wise men led to Jerusalem first instead directly to Bethlehem, we are not told? It is possible they were led to Jerusalem so that the leaders there would hear that the King of kings is born. However, their inquiry at the royal palace led to the necessity that Joseph and his entire family flee to Egypt to protect the baby, Jesus. The gifts that the wise men offered were sufficient to sustain Joseph and his family in Egypt.
What was the “Star of Bethlehem”? Was it an actual star, or a fortuitous alignment of planets? We do not know where exactly did the wise men live in the East. However, regardless of where they lived in the East, they could not have followed a straight path to Jerusalem. They, very likely, followed the established trade route; therefore, we could not conceive of a physical star, or an alignment of planets to have maneuvered to always be in just the right position to accurately guide the wise men. Also, when the wise men arrived in Jerusalem the Star, was not visible, so they inquired about the location where the Messiah is born. King Herod needed time to gather the information so he could carry out his plans. During this time, there is no report concerning the Star. When Herod was satisfied with the information about the location and time of the birth of Jesus, he then instructed the wise men where to go and what to do.
When the wise men began their trip to Bethlehem, the Star appeared, and they were overjoyed. The Star again guided them, and they did find the baby, Jesus. God was guiding the wise men because, God planned to inform the leaders that one higher than they are, is born; and that the baby Jesus would receive gifts that will sustain him and Joseph’s family in Egypt. God was in charge, as always.
About the significance of the Star; read the next week’s blog.