Malankara World

 

     A Wonderful Night: An Interpretation of Christmas

By James H. Snowden


XIV. The Star and the Wise Men

The birth of Jesus created a new center for the world and set heaven and earth revolving around his cradle. All things began to gravitate towards him as by a new and more powerful attraction. Angels sang, shepherds wondered, a new star glittered upon the blazing curtain of the night, and wise men came from afar to worship him. These wise men were Persian priests, scholars, scientists, astrologers, students of the stars. Rumors of a coming King or Saviour were widespread in the ancient world and doubtless had reached these worshipers of the sun to whom the stars were embodiments of deity. A new star in their sky, whatever it may have been, would instantly attract their attention and receive from them a religious interpretation. The celestial messenger was a fulfillment of their hope and a guide to their feet. They were obedient to the heavenly vision, and across long burning stretches of desert sand they came and appeared in Jerusalem with their inquiry concerning the new-born King of the Jews.

They were therefore broad-minded men whose horizon was wider than their own deserts, or they never would have overleaped their national piety and patriotism and prejudice into search and reverence for a Jewish king. But something told them that the new King, though born a Jew, was of universal interest and was more than human; they forefelt his divinity. Therefore they were come to the King, not to gratify their curiosity, not to speculate and debate and frame a new creed, but to worship him. There was no war between the science and the theology of these wise men. Their science did not kill their religion, and their religion did not strangle their science. The stars, according to their simple-minded way of thinking, did not crowd God out of his universe. Knowledge and reverence made one music in their minds as both science and faith grew from more to more.

A religion that could not stand the most searching and pitiless light of scholarship could not live. Science kills pagan faiths as with a stroke of lightning. But the gospel lives, because wise men go to Bethlehem and find there, not fiction, but fact. It welcomes and inspires the profoundest science and philosophy. God in his Word is not afraid of God in his works. The tallest intellects in all these centuries have bowed at the side of this manger.

 

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