This year, I’ve been wondering about The Star. I love decorating my house with story-themed decorations and this year is going to be stars, so I wanted to spend some time reading and exploring this part of the Christmas story in Matthew 2:1-15.

So I started with this question: What do you notice in this story?

The first thing I noticed was all the geographic references at the beginning.

Next I noticed what the wise men said: “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.”

I noticed how seriously the time of a star’s rising was taken. King Herod used their measurements to work out how old the child was – and this was why he killed all the male children under 2 years old.

I also noticed that the Magi were very good at interpreting stars – they understood the signs of the time, and they followed the star in an epic road trip to find the baby king. They also understood something of the nature of this king as they wanted to worship him. But they went to the wrong place as they hadn’t yet had an encounter with this king. As people who’ve read his life story, we know that this king didn’t hang out in palaces but rather with outcasts. Paul put it like this in Philippians 2:6-8:

Christ was truly God.
But he did not try to remain equal with God.
Instead he gave up everything and became a slave,
when he became like one of us.
Christ was humble.
He obeyed God and even died on a cross.

I wonder what the wise men thought once they had found the child, Jesus. Did it change them? Did they get more of an idea of His character and His purpose?

How do these verses speak to you?

I noticed that they were filled with joy not on finding the child but on seeing the star which guided them. I find this really interesting, as it points to having joy in the middle of a journey, not just when we get to where we’re headed. I enjoy looking at how different versions of the Bible translate verses things differently. Here are some examples of verse 10 from different versions: when they saw the star they were overjoyed (NIV) … they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy (AMP) … they were ecstatic and celebrated with unrestrained joy (TPT).

(You might like to start your exploration by reading Matthew 2:1-15  in different versions using (My faves are the CEV (great for reading aloud), the NIVUK (kind of classic used in many churches), The Message (fab alternative version), and the NLT. I find by contrasting the way these different versions talk about the same thing, I often notice new things I hadn’t seen before.)

What might be your response to these verses?

I noticed the wise men were guided, filled with joy, and inspired to worship. I felt that each of these could be used as a prayer:

“The star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.” Mt 2:9 The star was a marker of the presence of God with and it helped them find Him. I might use this to pray for people to become aware of God’s presence and to be guided to a place where they can encounter Him. I might also use it to pray more generally that people will find what they are looking for.

“When they saw the star they were overjoyed.” Mt 2:10 Joy is one of the things we associate with the Christmas story and decorations but not necessarily with our actual experience of Christmas! This is something I can pray for people – that in the middle of whatever Christmas is like for them, they will experience God’s gift of joy.

“On coming to the house they saw the child and His mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped Him.” Mt 2:11

When we think about the wise men, we associate them, with their gifts. However, worship was their first response and THEN they opened their treasures. My prayer for us all is that this Christmas is that we will be inspired to worship Jesus.

You might like to use these three questions to explore these or other verses yourself, or together in your family.

What do you notice in this story?

How do these verses speak to you?

What might be your response to these verses?