Interview with

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Audio Transcript

We’re now just one week away from Christmas Eve, and a reoccurring question about this time appears in the birth narrative of Jesus, about the crazy star that appears in the sky to guide the wise men to the birthplace of Jesus. You know the story, and Pastor John addressed it in his sermon, “We Have Come to Worship Him,” preached back on December 21, 1997. Here’s how he explained it.

What the Bible Says About the Star

I don’t have a clue how this star worked. It is absolutely baffling to me. I read an article last night with four scientific explanations of how the star might have worked. It says they saw a star in the east and then it says they showed up in Jerusalem (see Matthew 2:2, 10). It doesn’t say the star led them to Jerusalem. It says they saw a star and — boom! — they are in Jerusalem. So, somehow or other, I don’t know, they got to Jerusalem.

And then they asked, Where is the baby? (Matthew 2:2). And it says in the book, Bethlehem (verses 5–6). He is going to be born in Bethlehem. So, they walk out. It is five miles to Bethlehem. That is what, from here to Interstate 694 or so? And they walk and the star shows up. And it says it goes before them and stands over the place where the child was (verse 9). What kind of star is that? I mean, these are not dummies. They walk out at night and see how far the stars are. You can see five miles. You can see twenty miles on a flat space. They know the stars are in the heaven. So, what is going on here? How does that work?

You can go to the planetarium over at the university and find out how it works, at least one version, or you can read articles: it is comets, it is supernovas, it is Jupiter and Saturn going into Leo. It is some special light — reject the whole astronomy thing — it is just some special light that God miraculously did. I haven’t a clue how it happened and it is a non-point.

A Mentality for the Marginal

Those with a mentality for the marginal seldom have a capacity for deep joy in central truths.

Now, let me explain why I am stressing this. I am stressing this because there is a mentality in the church that some people have which I call a mentality for the marginal. And you can’t get too near these folks because they have always got a new tape for you to listen to or an article — I am really getting myself in trouble here, probably — or a book to read about some absolutely marginal issue. How did the manna get there? Where did the quail come from? What kind of special winds were blowing about 2,300 years ago to split the Red Sea? How does a man live in a fish’s belly? How does the sun stop in the sky without everybody flying off without any gravity?

Here is why this is serious: I wouldn’t point this out if there weren’t a serious side to it. The serious side is this. As I have met a few people like that, the sad thing is they seldom have a capacity for deep joy in central truths. The holiness of God, the glory of Christ, the horror and ugliness of sin, the deadness and barrenness or fallenness of human nature, the beauty of the crucifixion, the wonder of justification by faith alone, the precious work of the Holy Spirit sanctifying through the Word of God, the second coming, all the angels in fire, the judgment of the quick and the dead, eternal bliss at God’s right hand — if you try to get into a conversation with these people about these things, nothing. Just go back to the margin and talk about the manna. It is sad. It is dangerous. Something is wrong. I am sure there is a psychological name for this. So, if you tend to be like that, I think the solution is not to be scared, now, to hand the pastor a tape, but to meditate on the cross, to meditate on God.

Come and Worship Christ

If you always focus on the marginal, the solution is to meditate on the cross, to meditate on God.

So what is the point here? What is the point in this text? The point is this: These star, comet, planet, supernova, special miraculous light — whatever — are not doing the stuff of their own accord. God is doing this. And the reason he is doing it is to get pagans to their Savior. That is the point. He has got a big, wide embrace, and he is showing these particular people that he focused on for 2,000 years: I am done focusing on you. I love you. Believe my Son, and you will have everlasting life. But I am after the nations with a passion from now on.

At the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, it is still a come-see religion. And at the end of the Gospel of Matthew, it is a go-tell religion. Still coming to see, just like in the Old Testament. Come see the temple. Come see the great King. Come on, queen of Sheba. Come on up here and see Solomon. He will wow you. Same with the wise men. Come on. He is here in Jerusalem or in Bethlehem. But by the end of the purpose of Christ on earth, it is no longer come, see. It is go, tell.


We Have Come to Worship Him