What made you click on this article? What got your attention? Was it the title? Or the graphic?
When you go to the mall, what causes you to stop and browse in a particular department? Is it the colors, the display of items or the fragrance that makes you turn aside and take a closer look?
When commercials come on television, what makes you pause in your channel surfing and watch? The music? The announcer’s voice?
Our senses are bombarded 24/7 by thousands of sounds and sights. Marketing companies spend incalculable hours and dollars to determine how to get our attention for whatever they are trying to sell or promote. Politicians hire highly paid staff members for no other reason than to analyze ways to get publicity and strategic positioning for their candidate so that we will vote for him or her.
I wonder … What tools would I have used to get the world to turn aside and look at a tiny Baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger in a stable behind some inn in an obscure Judean town? Would I have used a trumpet blast? A lightning bolt? A jarring earthquake? A thunderous announcement from Mount Sinai?
When God wanted to get the attention of His 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
I. HIS STAR LEADS PEOPLE TO SEEK HIM
A. Not in a Religion
- Who was seeking Jesus in Matthew 2:1?
- What other words do we get from the same root word for Magi? What does this tell you about who they were? Where were these Magi from?
- Using a map, name the nations east of Jerusalem. What are their names today?
- From the following verses, describe some of the religious practices of the eastern nations: Joshua 24:2; Daniel 3:1-8; Psalm 96:4-5; Jeremiah 51:47.
- What does this 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 that’s looking for something more than their own religious experience and tradition?
B. But in a Relationship
- What did God use in Matthew 2:2 to get the attention of the Magi?
- How does God use similar means to get the attention of those outside the church today? Give phrases from Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:19-20.
- What are some other “stars” God uses to get the world’s attention? See Matthew 5:16; 7:15-20 with John 15:8; Mark 16:15; 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 could they have studied? See Daniel 5:10-12.
- When have you invited unsaved people 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 a relationship with Him through your words and your life?
II. HIS STAR LEADS PEOPLE TO FIND HIM
A. OVERCOMING POLITICAL HOSTILITY
- How did the political leadership react to the stated purpose of the wise men? See Matthew 2:3-6.
- What proof is there that Herod was lying? See Matthew 2:7-8, 13-18.
- Do you know someone who’s pretending 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 by those who seek to worship Him? See Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:22.
- What are some efforts to eliminate Jesus from our society today? Is it possible for those efforts to be successful?
B. OVERCOMING PUBLIC ANIMOSITY
- What was the public’s reaction in Matthew 2:3?
- Why do you think the public was disturbed?
- From 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?
- As you seek to lead others to Jesus and face political hostility and public animosity, how do the following verses encourage you? John 15:18-27; Matthew 5:11-12; 10:18-20; 1 Peter 2:23, 4:19; Acts 4:18-20.
C. OVERCOMING RELIGIOUS HYPOCRISY
- In Matthew 2:4-6, did the religious leaders know the Scriptures?
- 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 hypocritical unbelief?
- What do the following verses say about religious hypocrisy? Matthew 7:21-23; Isaiah 29:13; Malachi 2:7-9; Revelation 3:14-20.
- What was one positive thing that the religious leaders’ knowledge of Scripture enabled them to do?
D. OVERCOMING PERSONAL CONFORMITY
- In Matthew 2:9, what did the Magi do that no one else in Jerusalem did?
- In verse 10, how did God encourage them?
- 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 following examples: Genesis 6:5-9; 12:1-4; Hebrews 11:24-27; Daniel 1:1-20; 3:1-29; 6:1-28. When they refused to conform, what blessing was in store for each of these men? What blessing was in store for the Magi?
III. HIS STAR LEADS PEOPLE TO WORSHIP HIM
- In Matthew 2:9, what did the star focus on?
- When witnessing to those outside the church, what do you focus on?
- How did Peter have a similar focus, in Acts 2:22-24; 3:1-6.
- How did Paul have a similar focus, in 1 Corinthians 1:17; 2:2.
- Where did the Magi’s long journey lead them in Matthew 2:11. When the Magi saw Jesus, how did they react? Describe the scene in your own words.
- The Magi gave Jesus three gifts: gold and incense, which were 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; Matthew 1:21 with Luke 9:22.
- Do you think the Magi would have sought, found and worshiped Jesus without His star?
- Who do you know that will never seek, find or worship Jesus without you, His star, to guide them?
This Christmas, as you hang stars on your Christmas tree, make star-shaped cookies, wrap gifts in star-decorated paper, and just generally immerse yourself in holiday activities, would you ask God to use you to draw the attention of others to the Baby in the manger? Would 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). ©2018 Anne Graham Lotz
Adapted from an article originally published in June 2006.
The Scripture quotation is taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version.
Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her latest book, The Daniel Key, is available from major booksellers.