This morning I am continuing my mini-series separating Christmas fact from Christmas myth. Today, I want us to look at the Scriptures retelling of the Christmas story to get a few facts straight that some traditional telling of the Christmas story misrepresented. Please understand, I mean for this to be entertaining, educational, and fun. By no means am I trying to attack our dearly loved traditions behind this wonderful season of Christmas. However, with that said, there are some aspects in the retelling of the Christmas story that are merely tradition but have been mistaken as Biblical depiction.
Pictures of the nativity show Mary riding a donkey while Joseph leads them. This is speculation as there is no mention of how they traveled in the Biblical accounts. It is more likely that she traveled in a wagon that was possibly led by a donkey. Think about it–a woman whose nine months preggers bouncing up and down on a mule for sixty miles. She probably would have rode Joseph to Bethlehem before trying that. Luke 2:6 indicates that she gave birth “while they were there”. The idea that they rode into town and she gave birth that night was a fictional addition, no doubt for dramatic effect. In most explanations of the birth night Joseph went from hotel to motel asking the innkeepers for a room. However, in the Bible there is no innkeeper character or recorded dialogue.
It is not likely that the “wise men” or “magi” were “three kings;” this idea came from the carol. In fact, the only book of the Bible that mentions them, Matthew, simply tells us that there was more than one because Matthew calls them “wise men.” Although the account does not mention the number of people “they” or “the Magi” refers to, the three gifts they presented have led to the widespread assumption that there were three men. Speaking of the wise men, the nativity scenes you see this time of year typically shows three wise men visiting the baby Jesus at the manger. However, Matthew 2:11 gives us a clue that the wise men arrived at a house to see the “young child” Jesus. Matthew 2:16 hints that up to two years could have passed.
Although, the story tellers may have added a few “fictional facts” (is that an oxymoron?) to the story; Matthew and Luke paint the most beautiful Christmas story of all. They were inspired through the Holy Spirit to share with us today, the amazing story of the birth of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ and how God became Emmanuel (“God with us”). I want to encourage you during this holiday season, to read again for the first time the Christmas story spoken by the very breath of God Himself (2 Timothy 3:16). You will find it in Matthew 1:18-2:23 and in Luke chapter 2.