The wise men did not make it to the stable. Maybe a camel threw a shoe. Maybe they stopped to fix a deflated hump. Whatever the reason they did not arrive at the stable but the house, it was not due to poor directions. They did not need a huddle to debate the correct road. Wrong turns did not deter them from the goal. No dead end ravine blocked their journey. They followed the star, God’s unerring GPS.
They arrived not with the shepherds, nor with the song of angels. “And when they were come into the house,” Matthew 2:11. They arrived according to God’s Global Mean Time. God’s GMT is more reliable than Greenwich Mean Time and as unerring as His GPS. The official announcement the wise men carried to Herod, the chief priests and scribes was delayed with a purpose. Though God has not revealed His purpose, perhaps some of the reasons are obvious.
The shepherds were not forced to identify the child when the wise men failed to return. The baby Jesus was circumcised at the prescribed 8 days. Mary’s 33 days of purification were completed. He was presented to the Lord as the Law of Moses dictated. The promise to Simeon was fulfilled, “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation…” Luke 2:30. Another faithful watcher, Anna, “…in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord…” Luke 2:38.
God’s GPS did not fail when the wise men inquired at Herod’s palace for the King they sought. The stop in Jerusalem also had a purpose. Again, though God has not given us an inspired understanding into the reason, perhaps some are obvious. Shepherds with a tale of angels in the night and a baby in a stable could easily be discounted. Hallucinations and fantasies concocted by illiterate, bored men were not to be taken seriously. Important travelers like the wise men could not be ignored. Their inquiries necessitated attention.
“I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11. Herod, the chief priests and scribes were certainly included. The question of the wise men sent them for the answer to the Scriptures. “And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” Matthew 2:6. God in His long suffering mercy, extended a grace filled opportunity.
If no room but a stable had been available at his birth, Bethlehem had now become less busy. Joseph found a house. The visitors were gone. “Then Herod …sent forth and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, … two years old and under.” Matthew 2:16. Even without modern media, the news of the slaughter must have spread quickly. Imagine the mother who clutched an infant son as she whispered incredulously, “We were there for the census, it could have been our baby under Herod’s sword.”
The Biblical wise men did not make it to the stable. Neither will mine from the nativity set. They will remain tucked away in the box until Epiphany. The stable will get turned backwards to represent a house. The angels, shepherds and animals will be wrapped in paper and take the wise men’s place. A tree topper star will rise above the scene where the gifts for a King are offered. It will become a new tradition. I regret it is new, not years or decades old.
“And sometimes I think about a one-and-a-half-year old child with its baby teeth still coming in, whose days on this earth were so very, very few.” (National Geographic, July 1988, page 53) The author of the article, haunted by that scene as he unearthed the remains of a 4th century town on the Island of..Read More ›
We spent a half week with all nine of the children and the twelve grandchildren. The occasion was our son’s wedding. Tears threatened when the boys, now men, stood as groomsmen for their brother. The struggle of our grandson to stay awake and the relaxed attitude in one of the boy’s suits served to prevent..Read More ›