“Only Scripture brings us to Bethlehem”

December 15, 2016

brunerI’ve made this point before, but never so eloquently. Frederick Dale Bruner’s commentary on Matthew is a treasure (so far)!

The Magi story can also teach a little doctrine of revelation. (1) The star (“revelation by creation”) leads the Magi to (2) Israel’s Scripture in Jerusalem (“revelation by Scripture”), which in turn leads them to (3) the Child in Bethlehem (“revelation by Christ”). It is interesting that the star (of creation) does not lead the Magi directly to Christ. There is an intermediate stop in Jerusalem in the Israelite church where Scripture is opened; and only then is focus finally given to the star’s light and so direction to the Magi’s search. The star brings us to Jerusalem; only Scripture brings us to Bethlehem. Creation can bring us to the church; the church’s Bible bring us to Christ. To be sure, the star reappears, but, significantly, only after the Scriptures say “Bethlehem!” (2:4-9). God’s revelation in creation raises the questions and begins the quest; God’s revelation in Scripture gives a preliminary answer and directs the quest toward the goal. Finally, God’s revelation in Christ satisfies the quest. Creation’s revelation can bring human beings only halfway; scriptural revelations has the power to bring us home—to Christ. God in his goodness is the author of both revelations and uses both.[†]

1. Frederick Dale Bruner, The Christbook: Matthew 1-12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004), 59.

6 Responses to ““Only Scripture brings us to Bethlehem””

  1. Grant Essex Says:

    Amen! So many Christians think they don’t need to read the Scriptures. Just go to church and pay attention to the sermon and they’ll be fine. They miss so much. It’s in God’s word that we hear the very voice of God.

  2. Grant Essex Says:

    No offense to preachers intended. 🙂

  3. betsypc Says:

    As an adult watching the children’s Christmas pageant each year, I began to wonder why the Magi stopped in Jerusalem when they were following a star–why didn’t they just keep following the star. Thank you for answering a question that has been niggling at me for quite sometime!

    • brentwhite Says:

      You’re welcome, Betsy! I’ve blogged about a parishioner I had once who—in addition to holding a Ph.D. in biology from Harvard and having retired from NASA—was an amateur astronomer. One day while I was visiting him in his home, he was delighted to show me his evidence—using a scientific “star wheel”—for Jesus’ birth somewhere around April of 6 BC. He had the exact date, based on some assumptions, but I failed to write it down. I think he narrowed Christ’s birth down to within a couple of weeks, at least. Was he on to something? Who knows… But he made the story seem so reasonable to me at a time in my life when I needed the reassurance. I wish I could go back in time and record the conversation. It was fascinating.

  4. Grant Essex Says:

    Brent, take a look at this:

    http://www.science20.com/news_articles/astronomers_explanation_star_bethlehem

    It’s the most common “scientific theory” as far as I know.


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