Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at .roger@preachitteachit.org.

Dear Roger,

I'd like to understand more about the Christmas Star.

Sincerely, G

Dear G,

Let's talk about the Star itself and what it might be. Then, let me gather some light of application from the Star.

The Star Passage:

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.' …After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed" (Matthew 2:1-2Matthew 2:9-10).

Much speculation surrounds the nature of this star.

Some suggest Halley’s Comet that passed overhead in 11 B.C. Most peg Jesus' birth around 4 B.C, based on the fact that Augustus Caesar died in 4 B.C., and he was alive when Jesus was born. In the Middle Ages a monk (I forgot his name) set out to draw a time from his day back to the birth of Christ. Scholars later checked his research to discover that he missed the actual date by about four years!

Others suggest a meteor or a shooting star. However, the Christmas Star hung around for quite some time. Meteors and shooting stars last only moments in the atmosphere. These two are too just too brief to be the Star.

Others suggest a supernova in which a dying star implodes in upon itself. Supernovae are extremely luminous and cause a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy before fading from view over several weeks or months. The appearance of a supernova would easily be interpreted by the Wise Men as the birth of a great king according to their Babylonian religious beliefs. However, supernovas are stationary in their place in the sky. They don't move around like the Christmas Star.

Still others conjecture that the star was a confluence of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars in which all three are lined up visually from earth. A confluence of these three planets occurs every 800 years. This phenomenon would also be interpreted by the Wise Men as pretending the birth of a great king. However, the 67 B.C. confluence was certainly too early to signal the birth of Jesus.

I find it difficult to believe that this was an actual star at all. It moved before the wise men appearing disappearing as it led them to Jesus.

I’m inclined to believe that the "Christmas star" was some sort of miraculous-luminous appearance in mid-air--something akin to the pillar of fire that led Israel in the wilderness!

Now, let me move on to several applications. What light can we gather from the star?

This Star’s Ministry Was All About Jesus.

The wise men said, “We have seen His star.” The star belonged to Jesus. The faithful Christian, like the star, belongs to Jesus. Every beam in that star shown forth for Jesus. It was His star.

It is well for us to forget ourselves in the person of Christ so that our every movement, our every action, shines forth Christ.

You may be a very little star, twinkling for Jesus. However feeble your light may be, let it be plain that you are His star. So that even if people may wonder what you are they may never wonder whose you are.

This Star Led People To Jesus.

The star that leads people to Jesus must always be going toward Christ. Souls are much better led to Christ by example than driven by exhortation. 

It is a small thing to shine for Jesus. But it is a great thing to lead people to Jesus. Our mission is not complete until we bring them face to face with the living Christ.

The Star Which God Used Stopped At Jesus.

The Christmas Star brought them to Jesus. Then, it stood still where Jesus was.

There are some remarkable stars in the theological skies these days. They claim to lead people to Christ; however, they then keep on going to add more to the Bible and/or the Gospel. Others claim to lead to Christ and stop before they get all the way to Him.

When the star came to where Jesus was, it stood still and so should our minds become settled and fixed and focused in upon Jesus. Never indulge for a single moment the notion that you need a broader philosophy or a deeper spirituality than is to be found in Christ. 

We will do well to live Christ-like lives so that when we ultimately die people will find us still shining for Jesus and pointing to the place where the Savior may be found.

Well, G, I hope you understand a little bit more about the star and especially about some of the lessons we can learn from the Christmas Star.

Love, Roger