“Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star as it rose, and have come to worship him,” the wise men said.
I love astronomy, though I am a novice. Yet I know that stars don’t move like planets do. Stars are in fact suns in far-off galaxies, with their own orbiting plants. Scientific theories suggest that the “star” seen by the magi was not a star at all, but possibly a very bright comet or a triple conjunction of the earth with Jupiter and Saturn, which happens about every 900 years and is thought to have occurred around the time of Christ’s birth. Another theory is that the star was actually light emitting from the birth of a new star, or nova, such as a new star that supposedly emerged in the night sky in the small, northern constellation of Aquila in 4BC.
I am not opposed to any of these theories. As we read the Bible, it is important to keep in mind that the authors were real people who wrote from their personal perspectives and did the best they could to describe things they were unfamiliar with. I have seen a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter, for instance, and to the naked eye it is spectacular! I can easily imagine someone seeing this phenomenon in the night sky and exclaiming, “Look at that star!” Even the magi, who were thought to be learned astronomer/astrologers who studied the stars and planets and interpreted the meaning behind cosmic events may have seen one of these theoretical events and considered it a star of supernatural birth.
While I am not opposed to these theories, I also believe that God is in complete control of the universe and could easily have set a special heavenly light in motion to draw the attention of the wise men from their homeland (most believe Babylon). They may have walked by day, following the direction their instruments or senses pointed, or considering the arid terrain they crossed they could have walked from dusk late into the night or even early morning, guided by the light that had captured their imaginations.
What captures my imagination about these men is their tenacity and persistence to follow their hearts and their guts against great odds. This trip across desert wasteland could not have been easy and was likely filled with tremendous perils…wild beasts (we have a mountain lion that sometimes roams our neighborhood at night and you can be sure we are all cautious when night wandering!), venomous snakes, spiders and scorpions, intense heat and cold, long stretches without food or water.
Driven is a good word to describe these men…driven to find whoever is at the end of their journey, believing indeed that this king (surely God revealed this truth to them) must be someone extraordinarily special to have his own star to herald his coming.
As I sit back in my rocking chair in the predawn light and daydream about these wise men and their pilgrimage to Bethlehem, a sweeping panorama fills my inner vision. I see them battling the elements day-in and day-out, plodding sweaty browed ever closer to their goal, determined to see their quest through to its end.
“You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.”
—Jeremiah 29:13 (italics added)
This is Part 2 of a series that began on 1/8/2015. It is a description of my meditations on the events of Epiphany and does not necessarily represent actual events.