Summary: 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 Scrip
* 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.