A Great and Terrible Light
Pastor John Sloan
Introduction: According to historians, in the year Jesus was born, there occurred a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn, which created a powerful and majestic heavenly light. This phenomenon was the fulfillment of the biblical prophecy which said, concerning the Messiah, that a “star would come out of Judah.” But not everyone was thrilled about this constellation or what it signified. In fact, there were three starkly different responses—in any one of which we could easily find ourselves.
Questions for Discussion & Discovery
1. Who were the “wise men” that followed the star to Bethlehem? Why do they represent an unlikely bunch of Jesus-seekers?
2. What was Herod’s intent when “summoned the wise men secretly” (verse 7)? Why?
3. How can religion blind us of our need for God?
4. What is the philosophy of the world when it comes to securing happiness? In what ways, if any, have you bought into this notion?
5. In what sense is Jesus “true wisdom”? How have you embraced this wisdom of God?
1. “The term loosely covered a wide variety of men interested in dreams, astrology, magic, books thought to contain mysterious references to the future, and the like. Many were rogues and charlatans.” – D.A. Carson
2. “A star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.” – Numbers 24:7
3. 01. Any earnest, relentless and fearless pursuit of true wisdom will lead to Jesus Christ.
4. “How the magi originally understood that an astral phenomenon signaled prophetic fulfillment and the birth of the Messiah is shrouded in mystery, but in the final analysis the worship of the magi is nothing less than a miracle of divine grace.” – Matthew Turner
5. “Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? … God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” – 1 Cor. 1:20, 28-30
6. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
7. 02. One of the greatest barriers to faith in Jesus is endless religious activity.
“Where there is not an inward experience of the effectual power of gospel truths in their hearts, those living under the profession of religion, regardless of what they profess, are very near to atheism, or at least exposed to great temptation in that direction.”
– John Owen
9. 03. In a spiritual sense, we come into this world as authority-threatened rivals of God.