Enjoy your nativity, even if it is wrong…

‘Tis the season for Christmas decorations and what Christian home would be complete without a nativity scene featuring our new-born Savior?

Of course, we can just overlook the historical inaccuracies.  For instance, while it is true that Jesus was wrapped up and lying in a manger when the shepherds went to see him (Luke 2:16), it is not true that he was still in the manger when the wise men showed up.  By this time, Jesus had been moved into the house (Matthew 2:11).  Some scholars speculate that Jesus may have been as much as two years old when the wise men visited.  This is based upon Herod’s command to kill all male children under two years of age (Matthew 2:16).

Speaking of wise men, your nativity features three.  The Bible does not tell us how many there were.  It simply tells us that they presented three kinds of gifts to Jesus: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  There could have been two men.  There could have been far more than two or three.  We just do not know.

Also, concerning those wise men, the Bible never calls them “kings” as they are often depicted.  You may have heard the song “We Three Kings”, but in Scripture, they are simply “magi”.  The word means they were astrologers, not kings.

Your nativity probably abounds with different animals standing, sitting, and lying around.  The Bible does not mention any animals being present.  I guess since the birth takes place in a stable with a manger, it is assumed that there were animals present, but this is not necessarily the case.

A last, very important thing to note about our nativities is the baby Jesus.  Yours is probably very white.  Jesus was an Israelite.  He was Jewish.  He was not an American caucasian.  His skin color was likely dark.

I hope you enjoy your Christmas holiday and your nativity.  Does anyone have one that is more accurate than the one I described?

Oh, if your nativity features a little drummer boy all I can say is, “Really?”

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10 Responses to Enjoy your nativity, even if it is wrong…

  1. Davo says:


    I actually made it on to Santa’s naughty list for about 3 years because I openly bashed Christmas carols for their historical inaccuracies and unimaginative music.

    However, if you think little drummer boy is bad (it is, but at least it comes from an extra-biblical text), check out In the Bleak Midwinter. It talks about the snow that fell during Jesus’ birth. My old church used to sing it ever year. I usually ripped my ears off during this part of the service.

    How exactly do we know that Jesus was born in the winter? And how often does it snow in Bethlehem? Why is Jesus Swedish?

    Hurray for ethnocentrism!

  2. Robynne says:

    At least the characters in mine aren’t vegetables. 😉

  3. Tim Farley says:

    But you wish they were!

  4. Ranita Ashbrook says:

    I collect nativities, and you forgot to mention the feminine angel or the baby angels often used. I have yet to see an accurate rendering of an angel that would cause men to fall down to worship or the powerful “male” angel that could take on the powers of darkness. Just a thought!

  5. Tim Farley says:

    Ranita: Good point. Angels, in general, are always depicted as feminine and cutesy in nativities and other places (e.g. paintings). The Bible seems to describe them as powerful and awe inspiring. In fact, as you say, they often cause men to fall down in worship.

  6. Tim Farley says:

    Ranita: You collect nativities? Do you have the Veggie Tales nativity? We do, which explains Robynne’s comment above. I bet you are jealous! 😉

  7. Ranita Ashbrook says:

    Actually, I didn’t realize there was that particular collector’s item! Sounds unique. Who is cast as Mary? Madame Blueberry? My favorite part of Veggie Tales was Silly Songs with Larry. Ah, those take me back to the days of my little boys (all grown now).

    Sorry, that was totally off the subject!

  8. Tim Farley says:


    I am not exactly sure who is who, but here is a link to a picture of the Veggie Tales nativity.


  9. Ranita Ashbrook says:

    I’d venture that Mary and Joseph are not based on the regular Veggie characters. They remind me of nondescript squashes.

  10. Ranita Ashbrook says:

    Time to break this topic back out. We are deep into decorating with nativity sets at our church. I’m hoping for a Veggie nativity for Christmas. Think *Santa* will bring me one?

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