Why do all the nativity scenes have the Magi (3 Wise Men) when none of the gospels have them visiting Jesus?

at his birth?

Matthew 2

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east[e] went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

Update:

You see there they did visit Jesus. But you are correct - it was not in the barn. If you note that in 11 they were in a house. At this point Jesus was about two years old. That is why Herod ordered all the infants 2 years and younger to be killed. He feared this new born king would take his kingdom from him. Even from the time Jesus was a child- the kind of kingdom was misunderstood. Jesus is king of a spiritual kingdom- not a political one and that is even still misunderstood today.

17 Answers

Relevance
  • 9 years ago
    Best answer

    I notice there is a leap of logic in your question when you say: "If you note that in 11 they were in a house. At this point Jesus was about two years old. That is why Herod ordered all the infants 2 years and younger to be killed."

    Let's go back to the Bible text and see what it actually says:

    Matt. 2:1-2: Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him."

    So, the text definitely says that the magi arrived in Jerusalem AFTER JESUS WAS BORN. It also says they were from the east and that they saw His star IN THE EAST.

    Mat. 2:3-7: When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born...Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.

    Here, the text says that Herod was troubled because these magi had arrived in Jerusalem and were asking where the one born King of the Jews was so they could worship him. So he inquires of priests and scribes and finds out about the prophecy, and summons the wise men before him to find out from them "the EXACT TIME THE STAR APPEARED." Herod wasn't asking the exact time of Jesus' birth, but when the star appeared to them in the east. Would it not make sense that if God needed these magi to bring expensive gifts to Jesus that He would have shown them the star in advance so that they could prepare the gifts and the caravan for their journey?

    You brought out that verse 11 notes that Mary and Jesus were in a house. This is absolutely true, and although the Bible is silent about the timing of when they left the manger to go into a house, would it not make sense that, just having given birth, Joseph would try to find a house for his wife and Jesus to stay in as quickly as possible in order to get them out of the stable and into more comfortable surroundings?

    Then you leap from their being in a house to Jesus being two years old. I have to ask a question here, and this question is KEY, KEY to understanding what you're asking.

    Why did Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem in the first place? Did they plan to LIVE there? NO! If you will read Luke 2:1-5, you will see that they went to Bethlehem to register for the census, not to stay. In fact, according to Jewish custom, Joseph might have built them a house in which to live in Nazareth where they were from, but more likely he would have built a room addition to his own father's house for them. Before they could be married, Joseph's father would have had to give his approval that the room was ready for his bethrothed. So Mary and Joseph would have plans to return to Nazareth with Jesus as soon as he was old enough to safely travel.

    Now I don't know if you have any children, but I have a two-year-old right now! Adorable, but intent on asserting his independence, his favorite words at the moment are, "NO!" and "I DON'T WANT TO!" Quite a change from last year, when everything I asked him, he answered, "Sure!" I know that Jesus, being without sin, would be a far different child from my own, but I don't even enjoy taking mine to the grocery store right now, and I couldn't begin to imagine trying to take him on a long trip by donkey! So, using reason, I would imagine that Mary and Joseph would have planned to get back to Nazareth when Jesus would have been more compliant, possibly even when he would have still been sleeping a lot (perhaps between three and six months). Of course, any age we come up with is going to be conjecture, because the Bible is silent on this, but this certainly makes more sense to me.

    Of course, they wound up having to flee to Egypt (a trip for which they were well provided for financially thanks to the magi), but the ONLY thing the Bible specifically tells us Herod based his edict to slay the male children two years and under on is "the time which he had determined from the magi" (v. 16), which verse 7 told us was "the exact time the star appeared."

    To answer your question about why nativity scenes include wise men, it is because they are usually limited to one setting (the manger), and they want to include this important event that helped to fulfill prophecy and provide for Jesus, Mary and Joseph financially...not leave out part just because they can't transfer to a house. If you would like to attend a more historically accurate depiction, you might want to look for a church that does drive-through or walk-through scenes (because they DO portray the change of location) or you might want to attend a play, where many times they will change the backdrop as they narrate the biblical account.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    You see there they did visit Jesus. But you are correct - it was not in the barn. If you note that in 11 they were in a house. At this point Jesus was about two years old. That is why Herod ordered all the infants 2 years and younger to be killed. He feared this new born king would take his kingdom from him. Even from the time Jesus was a child- the kind of kingdom was misunderstood. Jesus is king of a spiritual kingdom- not a political one and that is even still misunderstood today.

  • Mike S
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Most people believe that the star appeared in the sky at Jesus' Birth...that is not true....the only persons to witness the Birth of Jesus was Joseph, Mary, and 2 Sheppards...and it wasn't till about 1 or 2 years later that the Magi from the East came to the Hous of Joseph in Nazareth to bring gifts to honor the King.......

    The Star that appeared astronomers now suggest it was not a star at all but the alignment of Mars and Saturn which would have been quite a sight in the sky....but for me...i believe its a star....until proven otherwise....

  • 9 years ago

    I'm confused. You just asked that question, but then quoted the very Scripture that mentions the Magi visiting Jesus. Matthew is one of the Gospels, you know.

    Unless you are referring to the fact it says 'child' and not 'baby', but the star appeared when Jesus was born, so he certainly would have been a baby when the Magi saw him.

    Source(s): I hate being sick. It makes my brain fuzzy.
  • What do you think of the answers? You can sign in to give your opinion on the answer.
  • 9 years ago

    Good for you, I´ve been speaking of this also for years, that there is no scripture as to who these men were, neither how many there were. The conclusion of three is based only by the number of gifts, which may, or may not be the case; we simply do not know, and what we do not know, we are suppose to leave alone, for the scripture tells us to learn not to think above (beyond) that which is written, so that we will not exaggerate or over-estimate. As for Magi, this is merely a fable invented to create a theme.

  • 9 years ago

    Jesus was about 2yo when the Magi visited Him. Notice they visited His house, not a stable and Herod had boys from 2yo and younger in Bethlehem killed, not just newborn babies. See also the book "The Desire of Ages" by E. G. White.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Ah, that's one of my biggest pet peeves! It also never says that there were three of them. It only mentions the three GIFTS they brought. Whenever I set up my nativity set, I always put the wise men somewhere else, so that they are "en route," lol. Sometimes if I'm feeling really radical I'll put all of the wise men from the different sets together in one place as a wise man caravan, lol.

    ETA: "The child" refers to Jesus. He was just a toddler by the time they found Him, not an infant in a manger.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    "9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east[e] went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him."???

  • 9 years ago

    The child is Jesus. The beginning of the chapter is about their visit. They followed the star, found him, they worshiped him, gave gifts then they split (went home) in verse 11.

  • 4 years ago

    It doesn't say how many. The word used is plural, so there were at least 2. The idea of 3 comes from later Catholic tradition. I'm not buying it, but that is where the idea comes from. ---------------------------------------.... RE I believe it comes from the 3 gifts they brought. Yes. The early Catholic iconography would show one wise man with gold, one with frankincense, and one with myrrh. Originally, it was meant to be a teaching tool (not literal). Later, it was believed that there were literally 3 wise men.

Still have questions? Get answers by asking now.