With all the hype about the Christmas star I think I was expecting more of a spotlight in the sky shaped like a Christmas cookie than what we saw. But I’m not an astronomer and planets never look like Christmas cookies. What we saw was a beautiful reminder of the ability our faithful Father has to order the sun, moon and stars according to His timetable. The last people to witness it lived over 800 years ago.
As I watched the planets appear in the night sky I wondered what the people around Jesus birth must have thought. For hundreds of years they were told the Messiah was coming. But His coming was so delayed many forgot to look. Others just refused to look. People busied themselves with raising up their own rescuers in war heroes, religious rules or political alignment. But God preserved a faithful remnant of people who refused to surrender the hope found in His promises and prophecies. This faithful few were the ones looking to the skies the night Jesus was born.
If the star they saw was anything like what we saw on Monday night I can see how it would have been easy to miss. A small light in comparison with the rest of the sky appears for one night only. Yes, it’s strange and beautiful and very unique, but if you aren’t looking for it…
Can you believe the Light of the World entered just as inconspicuously? “Just a baby,” some said. “Isn’t he from Nazareth? Aren’t his parents Joseph and Mary? Doesn’t he have brothers and sisters?” And they scratched Jesus off the list of potential Messiahs. Others argued with Him, eliminating Him based on their disagreements with Him. Still others denied His legitimacy because of His rogue treatment of their rules and regulations. But there were a few looking to the sky that starry night. The view they received was angelic, to say the least!
It always amazes me the way God works. I think a lot about those shepherds in the fields outside of Bethlehem. I love that they were the first to know about Jesus being born. But then I think about this star and God’s ability to order the planets from eternity past. I don’t think the shepherds were an afterthought. I believe God knew in the beginning who would walk away and who would remain. He knew these Shepherds would be gathered in the fields near that manger before their grandparents were even born. He chose a smelly bunch of outcasts to be the first heralds of the new born King, not based on their track record, their heritage or their incredibly unique skill set. He chose them because He wanted the world to hear the news of His Son’s birth from the mouths of Shepherds. He chose them because His glory is always brighter when none of our hype and pomp is in the way to distract. He chose them because Shepherds understood the language of lambs. He chose them for the same reason He chose a couple of teenagers to be the parents of Jesus; for the same reason He chose a couple of geriatrics to raise John the Baptist; for the same reason He picked a couple of nobody’s to announce Jesus in the Temple. God has no stomach for drama unless He is the center of it. These people stood in awe of Him and that’s just the way it is supposed to be.
The ‘star’ may or may not have awed you Monday night. Its presence may have been just another tiny light in the night sky that went unnoticed. Its historical significance may have passed along with a thousand other things that took place in the last century that the majority of people don’t care about. Honestly, if you’re not a student of the stars, there really is no reason for this alignment to awe you. But just as honestly, what it represents is something that should stop your heart. The fact that God cares enough about the Universe to plan their movements in eternity past should speak volumes about how much He cares about the crown of His creation: YOU! Compared to the planets, you and I are far more the stars of the show. Our intricacies and beauty far out shine the brightest of stars. The design of our bodies is enough to blow the mind of the most studious astronomer. And the fact God sent His Son to redeem us and open Heaven for us is proof of His love for us. Jesus didn’t come to set the stars straight or ‘un’crater the moon. As much as we love them, we don’t see Jesus feeding 5000 dogs or healing cats in the street. He doesn’t raise birds from the dead and the times we see Him altering the forces of nature are for our benefit, not the redemption of the environment. God loves YOU. There is no mistaking that. If the Christmas star teaches us anything, let that be the message. You are the most cherished piece of creation and the only One worthy of our worship has made it so.
We say Christmas is not about us, but it really is. Jesus didn’t come for His own benefit. He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. We worship Him and rightly so at Christmas, but it was to secure our right standing before God for eternity that He came. Stars aside, O come let us adore HIM!