A Little Camel and the Star to Bethlehem

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] 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[b] 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. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. (Matt. 2:1-12 ESV)

          I heard a children’s story about Epiphany where a little camel was complaining of a stiff neck as he constantly looked up to follow a luminous Star.  The young camel was part a caravan of Magi traveling to Bethlehem in search of a new-born king.  “My neck hurts as I constantly look up lest I lose that Star,” the little camel moaned.      

          If the Magi had a GPS and knew the address of the stable in Bethlehem where Mary gave birth the youthful camel would not have had a problem.  But 2,000 years ago satellites and GPS had not been invented yet.  The bright Star was the best guide the Magi could have. 

But these astrologer-philosopher Magi were highly motivated to follow that Star.  Probably inspired by the Holy Spirit, they believed that the Star signaled the birth of an important King.  They were willing to brave the dangers of thirst, hunger, wild animals and bandits in the long desert journey just so they could pay homage to this new-born King. 

          Whether we are conscious of it or not there may be a “star” that we tend to follow in our journey in life. For those of us who are in Christ we want the Star that leads us to the Lord Jesus.  But often times there are other stars that attract our attention – money, power, sex, popularity, a “noble cause”,  and so on.  Not that these things are bad in themselves; but they can distract us from following the Lord, as what happened to the rich young ruler who could not give up his wealth to follow Jesus (Mt. 19:16-26).

          Sometimes, too, our vision may be blurred by life’s challenges.  The threat of Covid 19, reduction of family income, natural and man-made disasters, broken relationships, failing grades — all of these could make us lose our focus.   The cares of this world can obscure our our vision of the Star, just like the seed that fell among the thorns, choking the plant.

          But be of good cheer!  God has given us His Word to light our path (Ps. 119:105) and guide our feet.  If we stay in God’s Word we will not go astray.  In Christ we have the Light of the world Himself to guide us. 

Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection He has redeemed us through our faith in Him. Therefore we can bring to Him all the cares and concerns in our life journey.  He invites us to do just that: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 28:11).

          God, our Father, You accompanied and took care of the Magi in their dangerous journey to Bethlehem.  Accompany us and help us focus our eyes on the Lord Jesus as we journey in this life, until that day when we will see and worship Him face to face.  Amen.

Photo by Vincent Ledvina on Unsplash

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