In our post last week considering why Christmas should not be brought into the church we discussed the problems with associating Jesus’s birth with the Christmas season. This week we will consider to me the most disturbingly inaccurate element of Christmas. As stated last week, I believe that your choice to celebrate Christmas in your home is a matter of Christian liberty. While that is true, I would highly encourage you to reconsider your choices of decorations and remove the nativity scene if you have one in your home. Let me explain a few reasons why it is inaccurate.
The Three Wise Men
Most nativity scenes include the three wise men as a part. However, nowhere in scripture do we find the wise men being present at the birth of Jesus.
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)
Notice here the description of when the wise men saw Jesus for the first time. You will not find a mention of a baby nor a manger in this scripture. Rather, Jesus was most likely already 2 years old when the wise men came to the home of Joseph and Mary to visit him. They were not present in the “manger scene” and thus are an inaccuracy of the typical nativity scene.
In many nativity scenes above the manger will appear a star. That star was the signal for the wise men that Jesus was born and to lead them to Jesus. However, this star never appeared over the birth of Jesus.
“When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.”
Notice first of all that the star was associated with the wise men, rather than with Jesus. It did not appear over the birth of Christ but rather appeared in the east and moved with the wise men until the arrived at the home of Joseph and Mary when Jesus was around 2 years old.
The Manger Itself
There is so much in our Christian Christmas tradition that is based on this misconception. We sing that Jesus was laid on the hay, the manger is pictured as a barn, and animals are present. However, a look at history tells us that shepherds were as likely to use a cave as a manger as they were a constructed building. Furthermore, the scriptures never say anything about animals being present or Jesus being laid down in the hay. No doubt that Jesus was in conditions far worse than many other children his age but we must also be clear about the truth of these conditions. It likely was not a barn and animals and hay may not have been around.
Again much of Christmas is about Christian liberty and is your choice as to whether or not you celebrate at home. As you make those decisions though I hope you will remember this article and avoid things that are clearly in violation of the truth of scripture. May you enjoy the season with your family and friends and be thankful for the blessings of the Lord.
May the Lord bless you,