Advent Day 19: Wise Men



I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a nativity set that doesn’t include the addition of Three Wise Men as part of the scene.  In fact, the toy nativity that we bought for our kids includes them but doesn’t have any shepherds.  We have sheep, two donkeys, and a camel, but no shepherds.  This, to me, is laughable.
Scripture records the events of the night that Jesus was born which included angelic visitations to the shepherds, as we have recently seen.  We know that Mary and Joseph were also there as well as, obviously, Jesus.  These Magi, however, were probably not there.  In fact, many people think that it is entirely possible that they arrived somewhere up to two years after Jesus’ birth.
The obvious question that follows this line of thought, then, is if Mary, Joseph, and Jesus lived in a stable for this amount of time.  Most of us are quick to answer “no” to this and would be correct.  After two years, most of the people who had returned for the census would have left.  Furthermore, the reality that we must recognize is that Jesus and His parents had likely been with their family since the beginning.
Being that Joseph was from Bethlehem, his return would have been to his ancestral home.  The stable, which was probably similar to the modern-day equivalent of a garage or shed, would have been a part of the family home.  It likely wasn’t the stand-alone structure that we are all used to seeing.  Many of Joseph’s relatives would have returned for the census thus leading to the “no room” comment.  The “inn” that we are all familiar with, was probably more like a guest room or spare room in the family home.
All that to say, when the Magi showed up, they weren’t hanging around in a barn with the animals.  More than likely they worshiped and interacted with a toddler, Jesus, in the guest home of Joseph’s family in Bethlehem.

Why does this matter?

Perhaps it doesn’t in the grand scheme of things. I think, though, that in our approach to Christmas, we need to be aware of our preconceived ideas.  Culture and tradition fill us with images and illustrations that tell us what the incarnation was like.  It is important, as we consider these things, to not lose the wonder of what actually happened.  Don’t put this moment in a box, thinking that you know what it was like.  As you consider the nativity this season, allow the Holy Spirit, through Scripture, to fill you with wonder at the great event of God’s incarnation.


God, our Father,
We stand in amazement at the coming of your Son, Jesus.
Too often, we pass by this moment as just another trivial fact of our faith.
We fail to realize the profound impact that Your incarnation had and has on the world.
Help us to not lose sight of this and help the deep meaning of Christmas to permeate our lives.
Thank you for coming to this world, for becoming human for us.
May we carry this truth with us far beyond the holiday season,
into a world that is desperately in need of Your love and presence.

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