The Star of Joy
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. Matthew 2:10 (ESV)
What is there to be joyful about on Christmas if your heart is overwhelmed with business? What is there to be joyful about if there is no family to share it? What is there to be joyful about if finances or health is failing? Steady yourself, Christian. The joy the Christ offers is not all limited by one’s circumstances. The joy that Christ offers you is that which was experienced at the first Christmas.
It came from seeing the good hand of God guide these wise men to himself. The star served as a sign of God’s direction over their life. These men looked to the star to guide them a great distance. Many scholars believe they traveled from ancient Babylon to Jerusalem, a journey of 800 miles along the main roadways. It would take roughly forty days to make this journey across rugged deserts and mountains. These wise men likely had a caravan that would accompany them, with plenty of supplies to make such a long trip. How did they navigate? Google Maps? A GPS? Siri? No. A star. The men had studied the sacred scripture, written in 1423 B.C., that “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17). Furthermore, the Prophet Isaiah said 712 years before the birth of Christ that nations would come to Christ through the gospel, by a great light (see Isaiah 60:3). So what was this star?
Some astronomers have suggested that the star was likely a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn. Others suggest it was a comet, while others say it was a supernova. The star would have appeared over Bethlehem in the days surrounding Christ’s birth, around the year 1 B.C. Although scholars disagree about exactly what the star was, we do know that the God has used a great light to reveal himself throughout history. We know that the shepherds saw this same light (Luke 2:9). Additionally, we cannot forget how God led the Israelites through the wildernerness as a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21). Moses also saw the great light on top of Mt. Sinai and returned with his face shining, as if he seen the glory of God (see Exodus 13:21, 34:30). Matthew later will write that Jesus radiated a great light to Peter, James, and John (Matthew 17:2), and in the book of Acts, the Apostle Paul will be blind for some days due to his encounter with Christ (Acts 9:3). Jesus called himself the light of the world and said that whoever would follow him would never live in darkness (John 8:12).
The wise men would have rejoiced at seeing this light because it was a divine sign. This sign reflected that Jesus was the light of the world. The light may only have been visible to those God intended to see it. It is likely that star stopped shining at some point, and this prompted them to go to Jerusalem to inquire where king of the Jews would be born. After the wise men confirmed through God's Word in Micah 5:2 that their destination was Bethlehem, the star appeared once again. The joy they felt was overwhelming. The sign directed them to finish their journey.
As Christians, we must remember that the Christian life is a journey. We will go through dark nights of the soul, and behold in a moment we don't expect the light of Christ, leading us further along in our journey to him. Joy will come as we learn to depend on him along the way. We must not give up. We must not allow hardship to determine our joy. Joy is found in obedience to the Father. If we can understand this, no matter what happens we can find joy. Joy is something that God gives (Ec. 2:26, Ps.4:7). It is the fruit of the Spirit of God in the life of the believer (Gal 5:22). It increases to those who are meek (Isa. 29:19). Matthew will repeat the word six different times to describe the result and response of living in a personal relationship with Christ.
Believe today that Christ is the source of your joy. Follow him as he brings his light into your life through his word and his supernatural power and presence through the Holy Spirit. Know this: as you pursue him in a life of obedience, you will find joy along the journey.
Apply: What act of obedience do you need to take to grow more in a relationship with Christ? Take a minute to ask the Lord what you should do to honor him better and to continue on your journey of faith. Trust that he will fill you with joy as you grow in your relationship with him.
Pray: Lord, please speak to my heart concerning my spiritual journey. I need you, Lord, to direct me step by step. WIll you reveal to me my next steps to a life of faith and obedience to you? Fill my heart with joy as you work in my life. Give me eyes to see and a heart to feel when you are revealing your will and ways to me. In Jesus’ name, amen.