This is the sixth part in a twelve part devotional commentary on “O Holy Night.” See the introduction here.
So led by light of A star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men From Orient land.
These two lines again point to the star over Bethlehem. But there is a subtle difference to its appearance in these lines. Before it was a “light of faith,” here it is simply “light of a star.”
At first glance, these lines are coldly historical: There’s light from a star and it guides wise men from a distant land. If we are to draw something out of this, I think it is the historical nature of the story. We are surrounded by stories and mythologies. At this time of year Santa Clause is an especially popular mythology. And while there are historical roots that Santa Clause grew out of, it’s not really a true myth.
The story of Jesus’ birth is true myth, and it must be so. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Cor 15:16-19)
Here Paul claimed that the gospel and all of Christianity depends on the historical veracity of one truth- the death and resurrection of Jesus. If it didn’t happen, our beliefs are as meaningful as the tooth fairy, and we have devoted our lives to a lie. But if it did happen, if Jesus truly died and was truly raised, then we owe Him everything and He will change our lives.
In Romans, Paul says that Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.” (1:4) Indeed, Christ has died and been resurrected, and it is by His resurrection that we now Him to be Lord over all things. His physical introduction into our history was of such magnitude that it even drew the attention of “wise men” from a distant land. We believe not just in the theological significance of the incarnation, but also in it’s historical nature.