What precious few details we know about the birth of Jesus are recorded in only the two Gospels of Matthew and Luke. And it is Matthew who tells us of the star that guided the Magi from the east to Bethlehem where they presented their gifts to the newborn Christ child. These wise men from the east were astrologers concentrating their attention on the stars in the heavens, and in this case, focusing on one star in particular. A heavenly revelation led them to the newborn King of the Universe like the shepherds.
Stargazing has been a preoccupation of mankind from the beginning of time, and on a clear night, it can be a captivating sight to see. So let’s take a modern look at the stars and allow them to shed their light on the birth of Jesus in a way that, hopefully, deepens our appreciation of just what an astoundingly loving event this really is in our human history.
When it comes to studying the stars, nothing has enhanced our observation and advanced our knowledge than the Hubble Space Telescope. Launched into orbit in 1990, this marvelous instrument has revolutionized humanity’s understanding of the universe. Operating outside of earth’s distorting atmosphere for decades, it has been gathering breathtaking images of billions of stars hundreds of millions of light-years away.
Once, several years ago, while listening to an interview with an astrophysicist who works with the Hubble space telescope, I heard him make this statement: “There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on all the beaches in the world.” That staggering statement compelled me to contemplate the enormity of the universe and the immense power of the God who created it. Needless to say, our frail minds cannot begin to grasp the vastness of God’s strength. What seems to be the logical corollary to this is how difficult it is to realize how boundless is God’s love as well. Scripture tells us that “God is love.” Probing the universe helps us begin to savor what tremendous love God has for us.
Back here on planet Earth, all we have to do is let that star lead us back to Bethlehem. It is there that we see the all-powerful Creator of the universe becoming one of us–a helpless child, meekly lying in a manger, a trough where animals feed. The Creator of celestial bodies assumes the tender body of a newborn infant. God becomes man. How utterly humble! How profoundly loving! This is the heart of the Christmas story. Every Nativity scene, from the smallest Christmas card to the largest mural, from the miniature creche to the life-size tableau–all tell the same beautiful story–Jesus Christ our Savior is born, and His love for us is… ASTRONOMICAL!
Best wishes for Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year to all!