▪ Have you seen nativity scenes or plays that depict three kings, or wise men, visiting the newborn baby Jesus as he lay in a manger? According to the story, God used a star to lead them to the stable in Bethlehem. Countless children have even memorized the names of those three kings—Melchior, Caspar, and Baltazar. However, does that popular account match what the Bible actually says? No. In a number of ways, the story is inaccurate.
First, who were those men? In the original Greek, the Bible calls them neither kings nor wise men. They were magi, or astrologers. They were evidently practicers of the pagan art of divination based on the stars. The Bible record reveals neither the names nor the number of those visitors.
Second, when did those men visit? Not when Jesus was a baby in a manger. How do we know that? The Gospel writer Matthew says: “When they went into the house they saw the young child with Mary its mother.” (Matthew 2:11) Note that Jesus was no longer a newborn baby, but a “young child.” Mary and Joseph were no longer spending nights in a stable; rather, they were by then living in a house.
Third, who sent that “star” to lead the astrologers? Religious leaders commonly teach that God sent the “star.” Did he really? Remember, the “star” did not first lead those astrologers to Bethlehem. Rather, it led them to King Herod in Jerusalem. They revealed Jesus’ existence to that jealous and powerful murderer and even gave him strong reason for hating the child who was to become “king of the Jews.” (Matthew 2:2) Craftily, Herod told them to report back to him on the precise location of this child, claiming that he wanted to honor it as well. The “star” then led the astrologers to Joseph and Mary. So the astrologers were on a course that would have doomed the young child had God not intervened. Happily, he did intervene. So enraged was Herod when the astrologers did not report back to him that he ordered all the male children two years of age and younger in and around Bethlehem to be killed.—Matthew 2:16.
Jehovah later referred to Jesus as “my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” (Matthew 3:17) Consider: Would that loving, righteous Father select pagan astrologers—practicers of an occult art forbidden in his Law—as his messengers? (Deuteronomy 18:10) Would he use a star to lead them to the most dangerous and powerful murderer in the land, bearing a message sure to inflame Herod’s jealous hatred? Would God then use the same star and astrologers to reveal the spot where his helpless son lay?
To illustrate: A good military commander sends his best soldier on a dangerous mission into enemy territory. Would he reveal to the enemy where to find that soldier? Of course not! Likewise, Jehovah sent his Son to this dangerous world. Would He reveal to wicked King Herod where His Son lay as a defenseless child? Never!
Who, then, sent the “star,” or starlike object? Well, who had the greatest interest in seeing the child Jesus put to death, preventing him from growing up and fulfilling his mission on earth? Who seeks to mislead people and promotes lies, violence, and slaughter? Jesus himself identified the “liar and the father of the lie,” the one who “was a manslayer when he began”—Satan the Devil.—John 8:44.