* My wife likes nativity scenes. She has several.
* Many churches display nativity scenes—some are live.
* Hollywood has even gotten into the act—“The Nativity Story”
* Most nativity scenes, along with the shepherds, animals, and, of course Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus in the manger, have three regal figures standing there: the Magi, (they’re normally called wisemen).
* While that makes for a beautiful picture, it is Scripturally incorrect.
- Verse 9 calls Jesus “the young child”.
- He was probably about two years old when the events of our text took place.
* Now that I’ve ruined Christmas by destroying the symbolism of nativity scenes all across the country and around the world, I want to look at the text today and glean some things from the Biblical Nativity Scene.
I. THE WISEMEN—1, 2
a. History and tradition say there were three (v. 11)
b. These were important men—The original word here is μάγοι (magoi), from which comes our word magician, now used in a bad sense, but not so in the original. The persons here denoted were philosophers, priests, or astronomers. They lived chiefly in Persia and Arabia (it’s not known where the came from, only “from the East”). They were the learned men of the Eastern nations, devoted to astronomy, to religion, and to medicine. They were held in high esteem by the Persian court, were admitted as counselors, and followed the camps in war to give advice.
c. As important as these men were, they realized that the Baby of whom they had heard was far superior.
d. The ground is level at the foot of the cross—and of the manger. Position, power, popularity and prestige make no difference in the presence of the Saviour.
II. THE WICKED KING—3-8
a. “Herod the Great”, as he called himself, had reigned over Judea for about 35 years.
b. He was, however, as much distinguished for his cruelty and his crimes as he was for his greatness.
c. Herod was troubled about the Birth of Christ, “and all Jerusalem with him”!—3
d. He got his advisors together in order to determine where Jesus was so he could kill him—4-6
e. He not only ascertained the probable time of his birth, and the place where he would be born, but he sent the wise men that they might actually see him, and bring him word. All this might have looked suspicious if he had not clothed it with the appearance of religion. He said to them, therefore, that he did it that he might go and worship him also. From this we may learn,
i. That wicked people often cloak their evil designs under the appearance of religion. They attempt to deceive those who are really good, and to make them suppose that they have the same design.
ii. Wicked people often attempt to make use of the pious to advance their evil purposes. Men like Herod will stop at nothing if they can carry out their ends. They endeavor to deceive the simple, to allure the unsuspecting, and to beguile the weak, in order to accomplish their own purposes of wickedness.
iii. The plans of wicked people are often well laid. Those plans occupy a long time. Such people make diligent inquiry, and all of it has the appearance of religion.
f. But God sees through the design; and though people are deceived, yet God cannot be fooled, (Prov. 15:3).
III. THE WESTWARD STAR—9, 10
a. It is probable that it appeared to them first in the direction of Jerusalem. They concluded that the expected King had been born, and immediately commenced their journey to Jerusalem.
b. When they arrived there, it was important that they should be directed to the very place where he was, and the star again appeared.
c. This shows:
i. That the birth of Jesus was an event of great moment, worthy of the divine interposition in directing these men to find the place of his nativity.
ii. God will guide those who are disposed to find the Saviour. Even if for a time the light should be withdrawn, yet it will again appear, and direct us in the way to the Redeemer.
iii. Our being led to Christ should fill us with joy. He is the way, the truth, and the life; the Saviour, the friend, the all in all; there is no other way of life, and there is no peace to the soul until he is found. When we are guided to him, therefore, our hearts should overflow with joy and praise; and we should humbly and thankfully follow every direction that leads to the Son of God.
IV. THE WORSHIP—11
a. They regarded him as the King of the Jews.
b. The original word means to prostrate oneself before another; to fall down and pay homage to another. This was the mode in which homage was paid to earthly kings, and this they wished to pay to the new-born King of the Jews. The English word “worship” also meant formerly “to respect, to honor, to treat with civil reverence’” (Webster).
c. The offerings here were made because they were the most valuable which the country of the Magi or wise men produced. They were tokens of respect and homage which they paid to the new-born King of the Jews. They evidenced their high regard for him, and their belief that he was God in the flesh
d. The fact that their deed is recorded with approbation shows us that we should offer our most valuable possessions, our all, to the Lord Jesus Christ. Wise men came from far to do him homage, and bowed down, and presented their best gifts and offerings. It is right that we give to him also our hearts, our property, our all.
V. THE WARNING—12
a. This was done, doubtless, because, if they had given Herod precise information where he was, it would have been easy for him to send forth and kill him.
b. From this we learn that God will watch over those whom He loves; that He knows how to foil the purposes of the wicked, and to deliver His own out of the hands of those who would destroy them.
c. “They departed into their own country another way”. Nobody meets Jesus Christ and leaves the same way!
* Like the wisemen, we must worship the Baby in the manger.
* He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.