9 “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.” (Matthew 2:9–10 ESV)
Following their audience with King Herod, the Magi began their five-mile journey to Bethlehem in order to find Jesus Christ; the recently born King of the Jews. It was when they began this last leg of their journey, that the star that they had seen and followed for many days and miles appeared again and led them exactly to the place where the child was.
“The text might imply only that the star appeared to move due to the Magi’s own movement. Even had the object been close enough to earth to calculate its relation to Bethlehem, Bethlehem was so close to Jerusalem that any distance would have been negligible unless the object was only a mile high. But the description of God’s leading of the Magi by a moving, supernatural sign may recall how God had led his own people by the fire and cloud in the wilderness (Ex 13:21–22),” The IVP Background Commentary to the New Testament says,
In other words, the star which the Magi followed may have not been a star at all. Rather, it may well have been the Shekinah glory of God. The word Shekhinah (Biblical Hebrew: שכינה šekīnah; also Romanized Shekinah, Schechinah, Shechinah) is the English transliteration of a Hebrew word meaning “dwelling” or “settling” and denotes the dwelling or settling of the divine presence of God.
It was when the Magi saw the star again that they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. The Magi became convinced that they were not deceived but that this supernatural light was leading them to the king for whom they sought.
Whenever I read this text I think of a song contained in the Christmas Cantata Noel, Jesus is Born by Lanny Wolfe. It is entitled Rejoice with Exceeding Great Joy.
O’er mountains and valleys, it led them each night. A star of most radiant light. The wise men rejoiced as they journeyed afar to behold such a beautiful star.
Oh, when they saw the star, they rejoiced with great joy! Oh, when they saw the star, they rejoiced with great joy! Oh, when they saw the star, they rejoiced with great joy! They rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
Do you rejoice when you consider the incarnation of God in time and history? Do you rejoice when you consider His purpose in coming was to die on a cross as a substitute on behalf of sinners like me and you? Are you rejoicing with exceedingly great joy when you consider your justification is by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone? Take time today to praise with all your heart.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!