It is very common for Christians to place a nativity scene somewhere in their houses during the Christmas season. Some nativity scenes are cheap and some can cost into the thousands of dollars. Some people have more than one nativity scene while some barely have the pieces left to accurately represent that first Christmas.
So, is there anything wrong with a Nativity Scene. The answer is yes and no. No, in that I don’t believe it’s wrong to display a nativity scene as long as we understand that it is simply a symbol that should represent the birth of the Savior.
Yes, there is something wrong with most Nativity scenes that I see. Most of the pieces represented in the traditional nativity do represent animals, people and angelic beings who were involved in the Christmas story, but not all of those people were present in one place at the same time.
Joseph, Mary and Jesus were definitely in the stable that night because there was no room for them in the in (Luke 2:7), but nowhere in Scripture are we told if there were animals present at the same time. The shepherds did leave their flocks in the field to go and worship the newborn baby (Luke 2:16). The angels we often see represented in traditional Nativity scenes may well have been present but the Bible mentions them announcing Christ birth to the shepherds while they were still out in the field (Luke 2:8-14). The Magi are also associated with the Traditional Nativity scene; however, Scripture tells us they visited Jesus some time later (Matthew 2:1-11).
So, as I see it, the animals may have been there but we aren’t sure. The angels were in the field but not necessarily at the stable. The Magi and shepherds didn’t show up at the same time. However, despite those small inconsistencies, I do believe a Traditional Nativity scene is a beautiful reminder of that special time we call Christmas.
For a clear picture of the events that did take place and actual biblical details read the two passages below:
Luke 2:1, In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Matthew 2:1, After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
John Mark Caton