Tradition holds that on the night Jesus was born, there were shepherds, animals and wise men all crowded into the barn where Jesus laid in a manger. Although this tradition makes for good nativity scenes, there is little in it that matches with what the Word of God says.
Without question, the shepherds were told by Gabriel and other angels that the Messiah was born and led to the stable where Mary, Joseph and Jesus were. There is absolutely no evidence there were any other humans that visited Jesus that night other than the shepherds. There is also no mention of what, if any, animals were sharing the space with the “holy family”.
It has always intrigued and blessed me to realize that God called some of the most humble men on earth, the shepherds, to be the first to witness the birth of Jesus. God did not call the High Priest, the Pharisees or Scribes to catalog or document the birth of His Son. God called humble shepherds to come and guard Jesus just as they would guard their flocks by night.
But what about the wise men you may ask. Perhaps the most misunderstood part of “Christmas” is that of the 3 wise men. Tradition holds that they somehow managed to make the journey from countries far to the east of Bethlehem within hours, met up with Herod for directions and showed up within an hour of Jesus’ birth. Of course this would be possible today with jet planes and GPS systems, but not 2000+ years ago.
If one were to actually read the account of the Magi (wise men) in Matthew chapter 2 instead of remembering movies, plays, pictures and nativity scenes; it is obvious that the Magi came perhaps as much as two full years after the birth of Jesus. Time and again throughout Matthew 2 the phrase used to describe Jesus was NOT “babe” or even “infant” but rather “young child”.
Although a baby is a young child, a young child is usually not a baby. The reason “young child” is used is because by the time the Magi got to the area, Jesus was certainly not a baby lying in the manger any longer. In fact, it was through the visit of the Magi, that Joseph was warned to flee Bethlehem and go to Egypt. I don’t think they would have taken off for Cairo when Jesus was 1 day old.
Truth may contradict tradition but it is always better to stick to the truth rather than trying to justify traditions that make no sense and contradict both logic and the Word of God. The beauty of the truth is that God called humble shepherds to witness the birth of Jesus, the Savior of all men. God called the Magi to come when Jesus was old enough to be honored and worshipped as King.
There was a reason why Herod had decreed that every male child aged two and younger be massacred rather than simply newborns. The wise men had undoubtedly first seen the star two years before and therefore Herod believed that the appearance of the star may have actually coincided with the birth.
Can only agree with you on this issue. I think its best to stick to the facts...
Funny I never though the wise men were there were there when Jesus was born. Maybe because I had read the true account before seeing any movies. But then when I was growing up movies were seen rarely and TV only had 3 channels.
Facts are always better than fiction.