9When 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. 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.
Today brings to a close our celebration of the 12 days of Christmas. Tomorrow opens a new season; the season of Epiphany. On this day our reading reminds us of the marvelous way in which the birth of our Savior was announced to the Gentile nations. The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned. (Matthew 4:16).
Many questions have been raised about the star that the Magi saw and the way in which it guided them to the place of our Lord’s nativity. Wrangling about whether the star was really a star or maybe a comet or perhaps a miracle of some sort misses the point. Whatever the Magi from the East saw, the important thing to notice is what they did when they saw it. They obeyed the revelation they were given. They followed the star. And when they understood that the star had come to stand over the place where the child Jesus lay they responded with exceeding joy.
Christmas is a time for Christians to revel in the great goodness of God’s revelation in Jesus. All of us were in darkness until the light of Christ shone upon us. Blindly we stumbled about until the dawn of the birth of God’s dear Son. These past 12 days we have rejoiced in the gift of Christmas. The Father has sent his Son into the world to give us the light of life. He has sent forth the message to us, not in the form of a star this time, but in the Gospel message. Like the wise men from the East each of us must obey the Gospel word we have been given. We must “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7). And we must, like those men from the East, rejoice greatly that we have now seen the Child of Bethlehem. This is the stuff of exceeding great joy, not only for the 12 days of Christmas, but for every day in every season.
—Pastor Jeff Harlow, Trinity Reformation Church, Salem, Oregon
Almighty God our Heavenly Father, we adore You for the gift of your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We humbly thank you for shedding abroad the light of the Gospel among us. We were darkness. Now you have made us children of light. Give us grace that we might continue in that light all our days and grant us that same exceeding great joy in which the Magi rejoiced. Glory be to you great Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, ages to ages the same, AMEN.
Discuss with your family how each of you can show gladness for the coming of Christ and for the Good News of the Gospel. How can you follow God’s light today like the Magi followed the Star? Think about what it must have been like to live before the light of Jesus had dawned upon the Gentiles. Give thanks that the light has come!