Did you see the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn last night in the southwest sky? It’s been making the news as the two planets draw closer together (though this is simply our perspective as they remain hundreds of millions of miles apart).
Some call it the Christmas Star, comparing it to the star that guided the wise men to visit Jesus.
To be accurate, however, the wise men didn’t visit Jesus at his birth and didn’t bow down with shepherds and the oxen or sheep or other animals at the manger. They showed up at Jesus’ house about 2 years later. It’s in the Bible in Matthew chapter 2.
The star of Bethlehem
Still, is the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in our night sky something that might explain the wise men following a star to Bethlehem and finding Jesus? Is this what they saw?
Probably not. All attempts to explain the phenomenon of a star guiding the wise men to Jesus as a natural occurrence simply fall short. Meteor. Supernova. Comet.
Without a doubt, it was a special act of God as he led these dignitaries and learned men to the Savior of the world. God doesn’t allow nature to do that job. He take up the task himself!
Even Astronomy magazine, not biblically inclined, reviews all kinds of natural phenomena that could explain the star of Bethlehem, and then concludes “The truth is, none of these events match up perfectly with the description of how things played out in the Book of Matthew.”*
Not even a great conjunction. But here’s the good news! A bigger, brighter Christmas star!
The brighter Christmas star
You don’t need a telescope to see this one clearly. You just need the delightful message of Christmas. That Jesus comes to our world, born as a baby to live as one of us and then die for all of us.
Jesus gave up heaven to live on this earth with all its messes. He chose us. He loves us. He came to give his life to satisfy justice in our place. We are saved!
The Bible prophesies this in the Old Testament, referring to Jesus’ Hebrew heritage, “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17).
Jesus is the star. Jesus is the reason for the season. He rises like the great conjunction and sparkles his joy and peace of Christmas for the world to believe.
Look in the sky? Of course, but things in the sky tend to disappear, become obscured by clouds, or fade away. So look in the manger. Look in the Bible. Behold the Christmas star. Jesus.
PRAYER: God of creation, your wonders in this world amaze us, and point us to your saving works. Focus the world on Jesus this Christmas, starting with my own celebration. Shine on me and through me, as I reflect the light of Jesus to others. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Read Matthew 2:1-12 for the entire story of the wise men visiting Jesus. Notice how the star behaves, appears and disappears and reappears, and guides the wise men to an exact address like a GPS. Not a naturally behaving star or even conjunction of planets.