“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’” (Matthew 2:1-2)
At this time of year we remember Christ’s first coming and search the skies once again for His second coming. The movie Chasing The Star focuses on the three Magi who follow the star to Bethlehem. This part of the Nativity is brief and mysterious, mentioned only in the book of Matthew. Any additional information regarding these foreign visitors is gleaned from Church lore.
The term Magi is the root of the word magician. The translation from scripture refers to wise men. The Magi was a sect of priests found in Persia (modern day Iran), Samaria, Ethiopia, and Egypt, who lived a monk-like existence, devoting themselves to prayer, astrology and ancient manuscripts of all religions. While not professing to follow the One True God, they respected Jewish scripture and prophecy. Our Magi had combed the Old Testament writings and watchfully waited for the fulfillment of the Messianic promises. Balthazar came from Africa bearing frankincense, symbolic of Christ’s priesthood. Caspar came from Asia bearing gold, symbolic of Christ our King. Melchior came from Europe bearing myrrh, referring to Christ’s death. Together they represented the known world at that time, coming to acknowledge the arrival of God With Us.
Beyond their reference in Matthew, Chasing The Star is pure conjecture. Each wise man has his past; each has struggled to arrive at his appointed time in history. Like the Apostles, they sacrificed love and families, driven to follow the star and the promised King. King Herod is evil and dark, paranoid, and involved in an incestuous relationship with his sister. The Angel Gabriel and Satan are portrayed as average Bedouins, caught in spiritual warfare to see prophecy fulfilled or prevented. Satan conjures up a ferocious desert storm to slow them down and whispers suicidal thoughts to Herod. Gabriel visits the Magi, without the glory of the shepherd’s proclamation, and casts out any doubts that they are on the right path. He also tells them to go south (Egypt) after they find the Messiah, to wait for the Boy King, that He will need their guidance and wisdom. I loved that bit of creative thinking.
I found Chasing The Star ponderous. I slogged through it like a book everyone raves about but I just can’t get into, waiting for the Nativity, my prize at the end. Alas, there was no scene where the Magi meet the Infant King, fall to their knees in worship, to present their precious gifts. The end prize is that the Magi become solid and resolute in their chosen calling.
Directors love flashbacks between yesterday and today and there are a lot them. I got confused with all the yesterday and today, waiting for tomorrow. The star is like backlighting, a brightness off camera that roars and crackles through space throughout the movie. But, I judge a movie by whether it is forgettable or if it keeps niggling in the back of my mind. This movie will give you food for thought and brings character to Christ’s royal visitors. You won’t recognize any of the actors but if you’re in the mood for the mental exercise of keeping up and with the realization that it is only a possible scenario, sit down to prayerfully and thoughtfully consider Chasing The Star. It is available on Amazon Prime and online.
~ Cheryl Kurtz