Quick, tell me, how many wise men are part of the Christmas story? When did they come to see the Child-King? Duh, three wise men came to see Jesus when He was born. At least in the modern adaptation of the Christmas story. But the Bible doesn’t tell us the number of wise men – only that they bore three different gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We assume one wise man per gift. We also have the hymn, “We Three Kings” and our Nativity scenes with all the shepherds and wise men worshipping at the manger to drive the image home. But scholars believe that Jesus may have been about 2 years old when the Magi visited the Bethlehem home the family had settled in. Matthew 2 says they left “the east” after He was born – most likely the area of Persia – that would have been a long, arduous journey. And recall that Herod ordered the murder of all male children in Bethlehem under two years of age.Several years ago a man asked me where to find the story of the Little Drummer Boy in the Scriptures. He was a Deacon in our church and a Sunday School teacher and wanted to teach that lesson to his class. My best friend once contacted Fisher-Price because they had a pig in their nativity set. No observant Jewish family would tolerate pigs because they were unclean according to Mosaic Law.
The point I’m making is we need to be very sure we are listening to and absorbing accurate information when it comes to spiritual things and biblical portrayals. Our traditions have painted over the Bible’s account of the Christmas story. Now the wise men may seem to be a very small part of the whole account, and what harm is there in a happy little pig and a boy and his drum welcoming the newborn King? None, if you don’t hold to the authority and accuracy of God’s Word. But when you let wise men, drummers, and pigs come to the manger you’re taking the world’s view over God’s record. One insignificant addition becomes another and another until the truth and authority of the Bible are diluted in a cultural soup.Here’s what you and I need to know about this season: “[Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus because He will save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). The truth about Christmas is that God-in-flesh came to rescue His lost creation. That means you, Beloved.