Sometimes we don’t realize what we’re looking at, do we?
This winter solstice is a good example of that, because tonight we’ll be able to see a particularly bright “star” in the night sky.
That is, you might assume it’s a star, but you’ll actually be seeing something quite different.
This rare “Christmas star” will actually be a planetary conjunction. The planets Jupiter and Saturn will be so closely aligned tonight that they will appear to be one ultra-bright object.
At other times, a bright “star” you see might actually be a binary star system; that is, two stars orbiting each other. Or it could be the planet Venus. You’d need to study it through a telescope, adjust your focus and consult an astronomical guide to know for sure.
The truth is, sometimes we don’t really understand what we’re seeing.
That was certainly true for many of the people who saw the baby Jesus and the star which heralded His birth.
The Bible tells us about the Magi who followed what has come to be called the Star of Bethlehem:
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’ ” (Matthew 2: 1-2 NKJV)
“When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2: 9-11 NKJV)
Astronomers theorize that this star might have actually been a comet, a supernova, or a planetary conjunction such as the one we’ll see tonight. Many Christian authors today maintain that it was a messenger angel or a supernatural celestial event.
But the Magi knew exactly what it was.
Thousands of people in the region must have seen the star, but it seems that very few understood what they were looking at. These travellers from afar, however, must have studied the prophetic writings of Daniel back in Persia.
They knew the star portended the birth of a king.
The Three Wise Men therefore understood exactly who they were looking at when they saw the infant Jesus. They knew this was no ordinary child:
This was Israel’s Messiah.
Other people had no doubt seen the infant Jesus as well during the first few years of His life. Most of them probably just saw a baby. Precious, to be sure, but no different than other small children in the region. They didn’t understand what they were really seeing.
They didn’t realize that they were looking at the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Saviour of the World.
Not taking the time to look more closely, adjust their focus and refer to what the prophetic Scriptures foretold, they missed the first coming of their Messiah.
They had eyes, but did not see.
What do you see when you look at Jesus?
A good man and a great teacher? A rabbi with some wise sayings?
Or do you see the Saviour and Messiah, God Himself in human form?
Look closely at who Jesus said He was. Adjust your focus if need be; take your blinders off. Consult what the Bible says about His death and resurrection.
Make sure you understand who you’re looking at when you consider Jesus: He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
And then decide whether to follow Him.
© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.