“When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.”
Around Christmastime it is common to hear some authority trying to explain the star that the wise men followed to find the infant Jesus. It is commonly explained as a comet or the conjunction of two or more planets or stars. The question is, are these and similar theories possible?
About all you need to evaluate these theories are a Bible and a map of the Holy Land. Matthew 2:1 tells us that the wise men came from east of the Holy Land. Verses 2 and 9 further tell us that these men had seen the star indicating His birth in the eastern sky. They had not followed the star to Jerusalem, as often depicted in Christmas cards. We learn from Matthew 2:9 that when they arrived in Jerusalem, the star they had seen in the eastern sky moved to lead them to the Christ Child.
By this time Mary, Joseph and the Child may already have returned to Nazareth, or they may still have been in Bethlehem. No matter which was the case, the movement of the star was now from the eastern sky to either the northern or the southern sky. That is very un-starlike. In fact, the movement of the star was even more un-starlike in that it directed them to a specific house! No comet, conjunction or other natural object of the night sky will do that.
These wise men from the East were accustomed to the sights of the night sky. They could easily identify the unusual. This star was clearly created by God to announce the birth of the Savior to the world He came to save!
Dear Father in heaven, You create and control powers I could never comprehend. I thank You that You led the wise men to the infant Jesus, clearly showing that His birth was for all of us on Earth. Thank You for bringing me into His kingdom. Amen.
Painting: “Adoration of the Magi” by Florentine painter Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337), who depicted the star as a comet.