All over the world, the Christmas season is celebrated with colorful displays of light. There could be no more fitting way to commemorate the coming of Jesus, the light of the world (John 8:12). After all, it was the light of the Star of Bethlehem that guided the first worshippers of Jesus to Jerusalem in search of the Promised One. We can almost hear the eager anticipation and longing in the words of the Magi in Matthew 2:2, “We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
Why would these wise men—possibly from Babylon and specialists in astronomy—have chosen to follow this newly discovered star? Had they possibly read the Old Testament documents that Hebrew exiles brought with them to Babylon 600 years earlier? We can assume they knew Numbers 24:17, one of the Old Testament passages the Jews interpreted as Messianic: “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.”
When they saw the star, they recognized it as a fulfillment of prophecy. This knowledge inspired them to go in search of the child. After many tiring miles, they found the newborn King and, kneeling before him, offered worship and gifts.
This is the first significance of the star in Matthew 2. The star guides people who are seeking for the truth. It guides them directly to Jesus.
Conversely, it also communicates a warning to all those who are living a lie—people like Herod the Great. Herod was known as the King of the Jews. Yet he was an imposter king, a Roman appointee. He was a master builder, constructing palaces, the fortress of Masada, and the Temple in Jerusalem. These great buildings became his source of security, yet eventually failed to console him as evidenced by his paranoia. He had his first wife and two of his own sons executed because of his fearful belief that they were plotting against him.
Upon learning from the Magi about the star that heralded the birth of a King, Herod immediately perceived this child as a threat to his own kingdom. He made it his obsession to track down this baby. When the Magi returned home by another route, the enraged Herod ordered the murder of all the baby boys in Bethlehem. God protected Jesus from Herod’s heinous plan. The forces of darkness could not extinguish the light then and cannot extinguish it now.
Jesus asks us who have also seen his star to shine his light around the globe. “You are the light of the world … let your light shine before men,” he instructed us (Matthew 5: 14, 16). In Ephesians 5:8, Paul reinforced this wonderful message: “Now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”
He declared that believers “shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:15), echoing a prophetic message from Daniel: “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).
Today, we are to shine by declaring and demonstrating the truth of the gospel so that others can understand and respond favorably. It is for that reason that the World Evangelical Alliance exists: to unite churches in advancing the good news of Jesus Christ and effecting personal and communal transformation in His name.
This season, as you enjoy the Christmas lights that honor the coming of our Savior, remember that you should be shining as well.
Bp Efraim Tendero
Secretary General / CEO
World Evangelical Alliance