Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. Mathew 2, 1 - 4
the text starts politically. The tyrant Herod rules. To him astrologers come from the Orient. At that time they were scholars, even priests. They knew the meaning of the stars. They could also interpret dreams.
These astrologers come and want to worship the newborn King of the Jews. "We saw his star," they say. That makes Herodes restless. When strange astrologers come from foreign lands and speak of the newborn king, it means that new times are breaking. This means that the balance of power will shift. And Herod probably will be the loser. It's about power!
Stars have always been signs of power. They show who is in charge. They assert a claim to power.
On July 21, 1969 when the American Neil Armstrong entered the moon, he stuck the American flag, the Stars and Stripes, into the ground. The stars and stripes with the 50 white stars, one star for each US state. And the world knew: the Americans are determining space.
Since January 3, 2019, the Americans have competition on the moon. On the back of the moon, the red Chinese flag has landed with its big and four small stars. Chinas great technical power! Other states show their power with stars. Visible in the Kremlin in Moscow is the red star of communism, symbol of global communism.
And we Europeans have our stars too. The EU flag shows the starry wreath of the European Union. In my purse the monetary policy of the EU rules with every euro coin, with every euro note. Everywhere the EU stars can be seen.
The State of Israel has the Star of David on its flag. - Those who had to wear a Star of David in the Third Reich were at the mercy of the terrible tyranny of the Nazis. Stars symbolize power, even abuse of power.
When the star of the Messiah shines above the stable of Bethlehem, it goes far beyond the policy of that time. Because it says concretely: God's new world is breaking now. God makes his dominion across the world clear. Above the stable of Bethlehem shines the star of the Kingdom of God. The light of God is shining.
The evangelist John says it this way: Jesus, the word of God, is the light for all people (John 1). Jesus, the true light, came into the world to bring light to all people. He came into his world, but people did not receive him. He shone in the darkness, but the darkness struggled against the light. Herod is an example of this. Many rulers after him resisted like him.
The star over Bethlehem is more than a celestial navigation system for a few astrologers. The star shows that God is in charge. As David writes in Psalm 8: O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
God's Highness is visibly dawned in Bethlehem. No wonder the darkness is resisting. At that time David no longer ruled over the people of God, no man according to the will of God, but a cruel tyrant. But now Jesus, the son of David, is coming on the stage. His kingdom is visible. This makes Christmas a happy Christmas. That makes us Christians happy even after Christmas.
Dear readers, no matter what political system we live or have to live in, we Christians have a king who rules eternally, who has the say about us and all the world. Matthew concludes his gospel with this powerful word of the risen Jesus Christ: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
Jesus had no epaulets with many stars, he came as a servant in this world. He wants to serve us today with his love. When we open our hearts to Him, the light of life, His love floods our hearts and our world.
Did the astrologers bring peace to Bethlehem? Read more about this next Sunday. I wish you a happy and blessed week!