“…We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2: 2b
There is another group of people surrounding the Birth of Jesus who also waited: the Wise Men or the Magi, men from the east. The Bible doesn’t tell us much about whom these people were or where exactly they were from. The Bible doesn’t even really tell us how many there were or their names. The things we say about them are purely sprung out of tradition from the early church. And while it’s fun to speculate, none of it really matters. What truly matters is that there were people who had been waiting for the birth of the King of the Jews, and when they saw the Light, they followed. They waited for the sign that would signify His arrival to this Earth. And their wait was fruitful, for they did, indeed, get to see the Star!
The funny thing is that the Magi, who came from the east, as Matthew 2: 1 tells us, knew more about the King of the Jews than the current king of the Jews himself! Herod had obviously, not kept up with his studies of Scripture because he didn’t even know how the prophesy went. He had to call in “all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law,” (Matthew 2: 4) to tell him. Herod, who was sitting on the throne in Jerusalem at the time, did not know that the Shepherd of Israel was to be born in Bethlehem.
As we can see, Herod was not waiting for the Messiah. Actually, the Messiah was probably the last thing in his mind at the time. Given his response to the significance of the visit of the Magi, and of the possibility of prophesy being fulfilled during his reign, we can see how Herod was more preoccupied and concerned about the material than about the things of the spiritual realm. His ambitions and greed kept his vision short and centered on the temporal power that vanishes, rather than on the eternal. He was so worried about the things of this world that he forgot to look up, and he missed the star.
The star in the sky was not only visible to the Magi. I’m sure such a star was there for all to see…for all with eyes to see. But Herod and his type never saw it. Immersed in their selfish pursuits, many were in the fog of darkness, blinded by their circumstances. They were so closed to it, that they couldn’t discern it.
The Magi, on the other hand, were intentional about seeking the Light…the true Light, the One that never extinguishes. That same Light is still there for us to see and to follow today. May this Christmas season be a reminder to us, here and now, that our eyes need to be fixed on things above. Let us not be blinded by our surroundings and our darkness. Let’s look up and focus on following the Light!