The Magi and the Star of Bethlehem

"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 

(Mt 2:1–2)

One of the details that immediately strikes out at us in Matthew’s account of the Jesus Birth in chapter 2 is the star that led a group of Magi from the east to see Jesus.   It is significant enough that Matthew gives us half a chapter of details to us about the incident.  When they arrived in Jerusalem they immediately asked in vs. 2, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews... for we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 


What was this star that they saw?  A few years ago I went to a planetarium to see a presentation on just what this star was.  Let me give you a few details of what I discovered in the presentation.  With computer technology, we can now go back 2000 years ago and see what was happening in

our galaxy and the heavens at that time.     When we go back to the time of Jesus’ birth, astronomers discovered an amazing event that would have definitely grabbed the attention of any astronomer at the time. 


This is what happened—Jupiter which is the largest and brightest planet in our night sky, lined up with one of the brightest stars in our galaxy called regulus, which we now know from the Hubble telescope is four stars that are very close together.   Interestingly, another name for Jupiter is the king planet, and regulus of course comes from the Latin regal, which also means king. 


During a just nine month period the king Jupiter lined up with the king star of our galaxy called regulus creating the brightest object in the night sky at the time of Jesus’ birth.    That is why these Magi in Matthew 2:2 said, “we have seen his star rise and have come to worship him.” 


Interestingly right about the time of Jesus birth, after a nine month period another one of our planets, Venus came into play which together with Jupiter and this four star light called  regulus would guide the Magi to a specific spot, which is exactly what we find in Matthew 2:9-10 when the star rested over Bethlehem,   “(the Magi) went on their way and behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.  (And) When they saw the star they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” 


Why are these details important to us?  Let me give you one basic reason.  It displays God’s Sovereignty and glory to us.  God is so awesome and so powerful that He ordered even the stars and the planets to display something about His glory.  Psalm 19 puts it this way, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.  Day after day they pour forth their speech and night after night they reveal knowledge.”   


Psalm 103 invites us to worship in light of God’s Sovereignty.  “The Lord established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all…”  Therefore, “Praise Him angels, praise him heavenly hosts.”  God is Sovereign and in control.  And I love the way Psalm 103 ends, “Praise the Lord all his works, everywhere in his dominion, praise the Lord, O my soul.”  


Understanding that God is in control (Sovereignty) and that God has ordered even the stars to line up to show us His glory enables us to not only worship Him, but surrender our deepest fears and anxieties to Him, knowing that because He is Sovereign and because He is in control, we can trust Him.  So as we worship Jesus this Christmas Season, let us worship Him and allow Him to be enthroned in our hearts.