Three Wise Men?

Read: Matthew 2:1-12

Many of the nativity scenes you have witnessed over this past month most likely include three men and three camels.  Not always, but often these wise men or Magi that are mentioned in the second chapter of Matthew are included in the Christmas scene with baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the animals.

Many scholars believe that these wise men (Magi) from the East probably arrived sometime within the first year or two of Jesus’ birth.  In other words they may not have actually been there at the manger right after Jesus was born. And, there may not have only been three of them.

In verse 11 Matthew tells us that when the Magi did arrive they presented Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  These three gifts are why we often see three camels and three Magi coming to see Jesus. However, there could have been more than just three, and there could have even been less than three.  Scripture does not give us an exact number other than the three gifts that were presented.

We do know from verses 13-18 that after the Magi left, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt in order to escape the wrath of King Herod who wanted Jesus killed.  Since verse 13 mentions a child instead of a baby, it could mean that the Magi’s visit occurred sometime later than Jesus’ birth.

These are interesting things to study and consider when thinking about the Christmas story.  Having the Magi at the scene of the manger in many ways represents a part of this wonderful story and not the exact timing of the events or numbers of people.
This is why I have never minded this portrayal of Jesus’ birth, even though the events could have actually been a bit different. The most important part is that we receive this story for what it means for us and the world.  A Savior has been born and he is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

Make it Personal:  Along with the visit of the Magi there are many other interesting things that can be studied and learned about the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.  I encourage you to do some study yourself and learn more about this most wonderfully, Holy night, that happened over 2,000 years ago.

Happy New Year Everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes