At a recent Christmas party I was blessed to hear a group of men singing “We Three Kings” with great enthusiasm! The lyrics reminded me of an article I recently read in Christianity Today about the Star of Bethlehem. It seems that biblical scholar Colin R. Nicholl is taking a shot at explaining the mystery of the star using the text from Matthew 2, his own research, historical documentation, and the findings of today’s expert astronomers. Married to a scientist as I am, I couldn’t be more thrilled to hear how the Bible and science seem to be coming into alignment!
The text in the gospel of Matthew tells us, “…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 in the east and have come to worship him’” (Matt. 2:1-2). According to Nicholl, the Magi “were scholars engaged in astronomy and astrology,” and were probably from Babylon. Their interest and knowledge of the heavens was such that when the ‘star’ appeared (most likely the greatest comet to ever appear in the sky, according to Nicholl), they couldn’t sit still. They had to follow it! Their observation revealed to them that the Messiah had been born. Wow!
One of the questions asked in the magazine article was, “How can the real story behind the Star of Bethlehem change the way we worship during Christmas?” Nicholl responds with this: “When you walk in the sandals of the Magi you feel the power of the story. At the end of the journey, it’s you on your face before the Messiah…To think of the Star of Bethlehem as a great comet is transforming. It takes away the sentimentality of Christmas and brings back the meaning, the power, the authenticity, and the ruggedness of the story.”
“We too should be overwhelmed, even more than the Magi,” Nicholl concludes, “because we are now able to recognize what God had to do to perform the great heavenly sign marking Jesus’ birth.” If Nicholl’s research holds true – and I totally believe it will – we Christians have one more proof of God’s control of history, his power and might, don’t we? And one more reason to celebrate and worship the One who left his throne in heaven to dwell with us on earth. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking at the night sky with a whole new sense of wonder and awe. Our God reigns! Oh, come let us adore Him!