A Star is born
This event lay far in the future for Balaam, but we look back and see his prediction fulfilled 2000 years ago, when Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. But why should Jesus be called a ‘star’?
No pop idol
We all know about ‘stars’ – pop stars, film stars, football stars, and so on – people whose charisma attracts armies of adoring fans. Jesus is sometimes regarded as one of these – ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.
But that’s not what Balaam had in mind. The Saviour of the world is no pop idol – to think in such terms is disastrously mistaken and demeans the person of Christ. The Bible declares that Jesus is none other than the ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’ (Revelation 19:16). He is the creator and sustainer of the universe who nevertheless became – in the words of a famous Christmas carol – ‘Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man’.
Those who adulate the soon-forgotten ‘stars’ of sport and entertainment are idolising fallible human beings. Jesus deserves worship, love and devotion of an entirely different kind – our total trust and commitment.
A source of light
To discover why the Messiah was described as a ‘star’ we need only to gaze into the clear night sky. Obviously, a star is a source of light. Most of the stars we see actually burn more brightly than our own sun.
But they are just a faint image of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is ‘the light of the world’ (John 8:12). Another prophecy we often read at Christmas is this: ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned … For to us a child is born, to us a son is given’ (Isaiah 9:2, 6).
Has this Star shone on you? Has his light dawned, as you have turned your face to Christ and recognised who he is and what he has done for sinners like us? Or are you still walking in spiritual and moral darkness?
A means of guidance
A star is not just a source of light, it is also a means of guidance. For thousands of years men navigated the oceans or travelled the desolate wastes of the earth guided only by the stars. People who became hopelessly lost have been led to safety by the same means.
So also Jesus Christ is a star of guidance to those who realise they are lost spiritually. It was a star that led the Wise Men to the Christ-child – and wise men are still guided by the greatest of all stars, the Lord Jesus Christ himself. He calls us to follow him, saying, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6).
He was born to die – to bear the judgement our sins deserved that we might have eternal life. By nature we are enslaved to sin, but as we come to understand and trust him, Christ leads us to peace with God. He does so by bestowing freely on undeserving sinners the salvation he secured by dying on the cross for our sins.
The Morning Star
In the Bible’s closing verses, the Lord Jesus Christ chose to give us this final description of himself: ‘I am the root and offspring of David and the bright Morning Star’ (Revelation 22:16).
The ‘morning star’ announces that the full light of day is not far off. Jesus was born in the night, and his death was hidden in supernatural darkness. But these soon gave way to the glorious dawn of resurrection.
Wherever Christ the Morning Star appears, he brings the promise of a new day – the promise of spiritual light and life. And the promise is fulfilled in the experience of those who become his disciples.
Because of who he is and what he has done, the Lord Jesus brings rest to the weary, joy to the downcast, hope to the hopeless, pardon to the guilty and life to the dead. No wonder that at Christmas we celebrate this glorious truth – a Star is born!