My neighborhood is a bit overzealous when it comes to holiday decorating. (Don’t get me started with bizarre Halloween decorations) Their front yards are filled with ten foot blow up Santa’s and enough Christmas lights to make Clark Griswold envious. Then there is my favorite, life sized sleigh and reindeer on rooftops! Seems like we are confused when it comes to ‘the reason for the season’, the birth of the Savior of the World! There are a few people that attempt to put Christ back in Christmas. I see the odd lawn with a nativity scene front and center, however, even then it gets confused. The usual characters are present: Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus, yet, somehow, Santa or sponge Bob will randomly show up on the scene as well!! They don’t belong. But before we are too hard on them, we must realize most Christians get it wrong by placing 3 characters that don’t belong….the 3 Wise Men:

Matthew 2:1-12

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.”

The 3 Wise Men don’t appear at the manger scene when Jesus was born. They would arrive on the scene much later. Many believe Jesus was probably 1 or 2yrs old at the time. How amazing is it that they fell down and began to worship?! I’ve met a number of 2yr olds in my life, NEVER have I felt compelled to worship one of them. Another mistake we make is assuming there were 3 Wise Men. The Bible never says there were 3. We assume because of the three gifts they gave to Jesus: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. These gifts reveal much about the identity of this 2yr old child:

1] GOLD is the gift given to Kings or Gods. Queen of Sheba brought 120 talents of GOLD to King Solomon. When Aaron and the Jews thought Moses was gone, they made a GOLDEN calf to worship. Jesus is the one true King, in fact, He is the one born King of Kings.

2] FRANKINCENSE is the gift given to a priest. The men of the priesthood were required to have a distinct anointing oil that they were to apply on themselves. The predominant ingredient was frankincense. It was an aromatic resin that would fill the room with its fragrance. Jesus is our great High Priest and His fragrance should mark our life. The fragrance of life to some and the stench of death to others. (2 Cor 2:15-16)

3] MYRRH is a gum-like resin used to prepare the dead for burial (kind of a strange baby gift to receive!) Jesus was the one born to die on our behalf. Without the manger, the cross makes no sense. Jesus came to give His life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)

Maybe you get your Christmas decorations, or the Nativity scene wrong. But you have to get the identity of that child in the manger right.