Led into His Presence – Some Thoughts on the Star of Bethlehem
There are many theories about the nature of the star which led the Magi to the Presence of Jesus Christ. Some hold that is was an exploding star which shone brightly for a short period of time. Others say it was an alignment of certain planets which only appeared to be a new star in the night sky. Still others, based on the strange movement of the star, hold that it could only have been something supernatural.
Based on the fact that the star had gone unnoticed in Jerusalem (or at least had been insignificant enough so as not to cause a stir until the Magi pointed it out) it would seem to have been an ordinary star. The erratic movement however would point to something more supernatural. So which is it? Natural or supernatural?
Why not both? The star is referred to as “His star” by the wise men. It is the star which directs us to the Incarnation, the union of the Human Nature and Divine Nature in The Word. The union of what is natural to us with what is Supernatural. The star, like the One it points to, is natural and yet also does supernatural things. This attribute of the star points to the truth that Christ is both truly Man and truly God. The ordinariness of the star meant that it could get missed in the midst of all the other stars; in the same way that Christ could be missed in the midst of men. It was the watchful Magi who perceived what was supernatural about star; just as it is those who are watchful and prayerful who are able to perceive Christ where He is present.
When the star reappears after the wise men have been in Jerusalem they are filled with great joy. This points to another mystery in the life of Christ, namely the resurrection, when the Apostles are filled with the same exceeding joy when encountering the risen Christ.
For the Magi, it was the light of the star which lead them to the Presence of Jesus Christ; for us it is the light of the sanctuary lamp.