December 1, 2006 - As you leafed through this magazine, why did you stop at this page? What got your attention? Was it the title? The graphic? When you go to the mall, what causes you to stop and browse in a particular department? Is it the display of items? The colors? The fragrance? What makes you pause your channel surfing to watch a particular television commercial, the sound of the music or the announcer’s voice?
by Anne Graham Lotz
Our senses are bombarded 24/7 by thousands of sounds and sights. Marketing companies spend significant amounts of money to determine how to get our attention for whatever they are trying to sell or promote. Politicians have highly paid staff members who do nothing but analyze how to get publicity for their candidate so that we will be drawn to vote for him or her.
I wonder … What would I have used to get the world to turn aside and look at a tiny Baby? How could I turn the world’s attention to an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, in a stable behind some inn in an obscure Judean town? A trumpet blast? A lightning bolt? A thunderous announcement from Mt. Sinai?
When God wanted to get the attention of His own people to look into His own infant face, He sent angels. When He wanted to get the attention of the nations of the world, wrapped up in their own religious traditions and belief systems, He used a star.
Read Matthew 2:1-12
His Star Leads People to Seek Him
Not in a Religion ...
- Who was seeking Jesus in Matthew 2:1?
- What other words do we get from the root word for Magi?
- What does this tell you about who they were?
- Using a map, name the nations east of Jerusalem.
- Describe some of the religious practices of the eastern nations. See Daniel 3:1-8 and Jeremiah 51:47.
- What do these practices tell you about the religious background of the Magi?
- What implies that the Magi were restless in their religious experience and yearning for something more?
- Who do you know who is looking for something more than their own experience or religious tradition?
... But in a relationship
- What did God use to get the attention of the Magi? See Matthew 2:2.
- How does God use similar means to get the attention of those outside the Church today? Give phrases from Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:20.
- What are some other “stars” God uses to get the world’s attention? Consider Matthew 5:16 and 7:15-20 along with John 15:8, Mark 16:15 and Acts 8:6.
- How do you think the Magi knew the King of the Jews had arrived? Given Daniel’s position in Babylon, what prophetic writings might the Magi have studied? See Daniel 5:10-12.
- When have you invited an unsaved person to your church or Bible study where they can hear God’s Word for themselves?
- What was the stated purpose of the Magi in seeking Jesus?
- This Christmas, would you ask God to make you a “star” that leads others to seek Him through your words and life?
His Star Leads People to Find Him
In Spite of Political Hostility
- How did the political leadership react to the stated purpose of the Magi? See Matthew 2:3.
- What proof is there that Herod was lying in Matthew 2:7-8? See Matthew 2:13-18.
- Do you know people who pretend to be interested in Jesus for their own hidden agenda?
- Why do you think political leaders, governments and even entire cultures are threatened by Jesus and those who seek to worship Him? See Matthew 28:18 and Ephesians 1:22.
- Name some efforts to eliminate Jesus from our society. Do you think it’s possible for them to be successful? Why?
In Spite of Public Animosity
- What was the public’s reaction in Matthew 2:3?
- Why do you think the public was disturbed?
- In Matthew 2:3, who seemed to set the agenda for what was or was not politically correct?
- How does this relate to our world today?
- Read John 15:18-27; Matthew 10:18-20; 1 Peter 2:23, 4:19; Acts 4:18-21; and Matthew 5:11-12. As you seek to lead others to Jesus, and face political hostility and public animosity, how do these verses encourage you?
In Spite of Religious Hypocrisy
- Did the religious leaders know the Scriptures? See Matthew 2:4-6.
- Although they were religious, what evidence is there that they did not actually believe, apply or obey the Scriptures?
- What blessings did they miss because of their unbelief?
- What do Matthew 7:21-23, Isaiah 29:13, Malachi 2:7-9 and Revelation 3:14-20 say about religious hypocrisy?
- What was one positive thing that the religious leaders’ knowledge of Scripture enabled them to do?
In Spite of Personal Conformity
- Read Matthew 2:9. What did the Magi do that no one else in Jerusalem did?
- How did God encourage them in Matthew 2:10?
- What encouragement have you given to someone who has stepped away from the crowd to seek a personal relationship with Jesus?
- Explain the encouragement you receive from the actions of the men in the following examples: Genesis 6:5-9, 12:1-4; Hebrews 11:24-27; Daniel 1:1-20, 3:1-30, 6:1-28. When they refused to conform, what blessing was in store for each of them? What blessing was in store for the Magi?
His Star Leads People to Worship Him
- On what did the star focus in Matthew 2:9? When witnessing to those outside the Church, what is your focus?
- How was Peter’s focus similar in Acts 2:22-24 and 3:1-6?
- How was Paul’s focus similar in 1 Corinthians 1:17 and 2:2?
- In Matthew 2:11, where did the Magi’s long journey lead?
- When the Magi saw Jesus, how did they react? Describe the scene in Matthew 2:11 in your own words.
- The Magi gave Jesus three gifts: gold; incense, which was used in ceremonial prayer; and myrrh, an embalming spice. How does each gift represent who Jesus is? Give phrases from the following verses that correspond with each gift: Revelation 19:16, Hebrews 8:1-2, and Matthew 1:21 along with Luke 9:22.
- Do you think the Magi would have sought, found and worshiped Jesus without His star?
- Whom do you know who will never seek, find or worship Jesus without a “star” to guide them?
This Christmas, as you hang stars on your Christmas tree, make star-shaped cookies and immerse yourself in holiday activities, will you ask God to use you to draw the attention of others to the Baby in the manger? Will you be His star? “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3, NIV).