I know this is the time for holiday cheer and for great joy to fill our lives. Most of us have already adorned our tree with ornaments and lights, we’ve filled our home with festive decorations, and we’ve no doubt put our nativity scenes in place.
One of the things I remember most about Christmas time growing up was having to listen to my mother complain every time we passed by a nativity scene that had the wise men at the manger (and I do mean EVERY time). She was always compelled to say, “the wise men were not at the manger with the shepherds!” If the nativity scene was set this way at a church she would exclaim, “Haven’t they read the Bible!”.
We all know the story from Matthew chapter 2, where Magi from the east followed a star that led them to king Herod in Jerusalem. They asked him where the new King of the Jews had been born. After some investigation, they discovered the child was in Bethlehem. Herod sent the Magi on their way and told them to let him know when and where they found the child so he could “worship Him too”. The Magi followed the star to the place where Jesus was. They presented their gifts and went on their way home, neglecting to check back in with Herod first. This made Herod angry and he sent his men to kill all the baby boys two years old and younger living in Bethlehem.
The wise men (or Magi) were not at the manger, or even present at the time of Jesus’ birth. They didn’t arrive until years later. When the wise men originally came to Herod, he inquired as to when the star first appeared. Herod later killed all the baby boys two years old and younger. This lets us know Jesus had been born about two years prior to this event. The Bible also states that when the wise men arrived, they entered “the house.” Jesus was born and laid in a manger because there was no room in the inn. The fact they are now living in a house points to the time that has passed.
So, I vote for the wise men to be kicked out of Christmas! Just kidding. Is it a big deal whether or not people put the wise men at the manger in their nativity decorations? Of course not! But I can’t promise my mom won’t comment on it.