Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-52 TNIV).
In the blink of an eye, or the twinkling of a star, everything can change. Just ask the stargazers from the distant east. There it was, hung in the heavens for anyone interested to see — a celestial event signaling the birth of someone great. These stargazers we call the Magi traveled west across the Fertile Crescent for days covering hundreds of miles, and quite possibly arriving first at possibly Herodium — Herod's fortress — towering 2,500 feet above the horizon and 7.5 miles southeast of Bethlehem. Their confusion was understandable. This marvel of Herod's building enterprise was a lavish fortress for the ruthless King Herod whose tyrannical rule controlled the Jews. But when no king was there, they traveled to Jerusalem and found King Herod there. They asked him:
"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" (Matthew 2:2).
The star changed everything for the Magi. The child changed everything for Joseph and Mary. The Magi's visit changed everything for Herod. And, if we listen with our hearts, the Magi's visit (Matthew 2:1-12) can change everything for us.
In many ways, we've lost our sense of wonder at this strange and mysterious story. After all, the Magi didn't visit baby Jesus at the manger, but at a house (Matthew 2:5). They probably came from the land we call Iran to honor the birth of the King of the Jews. Meanwhile, the Jewish religious leaders determined from their own prophets where the Messiah was to be born: the tiny and insignificant city of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:4-6). Rather than going to search for this Child to welcome Him as Messiah and King, they sent the Magi to find Him. When they tricked Herod and went home a different way, Herod sent soldiers to eliminate this Child as a threat to his control (Matthew 2:16-18).
To make matters even more interesting, these traveling stargazers were experts in a practice now called astrology, a form of witchcraft forbidden and punished by death under the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 18:10-15; also see Revelation 22:12-17). Yet these foreigners used their false religion to find their way to God's true Savior. When they found the Child Jesus, they bowed down and worshiped Him, giving Him expensive gifts they had brought from their homeland (Matthew 2:11).
This story is full of convicting irony, yet full of God's glorious mystery and grace. Our Heavenly Father longs for us to celebrate His mystery as we worship Him in "reverence and awe" (Hebrews 12:28-29). He speaks to us and gives us His "great and precious promises" (2 Peter 1:4) in Scripture, and if we listen with our hearts, it will lead us to His salvation through our faith in Jesus, the Messiah (2 Timothy 2:15).
While Christmas, with all it's bows and wrapping paper may be past, if we look, we can still find the stars — stars on top of trees, stars in the homogenized "holiday" displays in town squares, and stars in the heavens above us. And if we choose to look upon these stars with wonder, they will lead us back to Bethlehem, to a child who the religious plotted to kill and seekers from the East journeyed to find. And in the mystery, confusion, and wonder of it all, we too can bow down and worship Jesus and celebrate the sacrificial love of God. We can bring Him our gifts and find fresh joy in Him, for God made sure that He is within reach of all of us who honestly look up and see the stars, wonder, and are willing to share the journey to find Him.
Yes, in the blink of an eye, or a twinkling of a star, everything can change!
I'd love to hear your response to these ideas on my blog: