Where was Jesus when the wise men arrived? Was he a babe in Bethlehem? Or was he a two-year-old in Nazareth? Believe it or not, this has been the source of much debate.
Matthew implies that they saw him in Bethlehem. But there’s a problem: Luke says when they left Bethlehem, they went back Nazareth. Matthew says that, following the Magi birthday party, Mary and Joseph went to Egypt. So which is it?
Those who place Jesus in Nazareth two years later say that the couple went back to Nazareth after the birth but then left for Egypt after the Wise Men visited. If that’s true, then why would Matthew say that Mary and Joseph departed for their own country after the Magi visit? They were already in their own country! A simpler explanation is that they started home to Nazareth as Luke implies but, being warned in a dream, they changed course and headed for Egypt. After Herod died they came back to Nazareth.
Okay, but what about the house? Matthew says the wise men entered a house. Some argue: “Mary and Joseph were in a house, and this proves they weren’t in Bethlehem!” The fact that the wise men saw Jesus in a house only proves they didn’t show up the first night. It would be silly to think that Mary and Joseph would stay indefinitely in the barn. They would have taken the first house that opened its doors. What about the two years? Herod killed the children in Bethlehem from two years and under because the Magi said that’s how long they had seen the star.
Why assume God hung the star on the day of the birth? Couldn’t He have set it up two years in advance? And isn’t that more like Him?
Here’s the beauty of God’s impeccable timing: Mary and Joseph were only in Bethlehem thirty days. That means that these Magi, in the process of traveling for two years, had a thirty day widow to see Jesus. Think what might have happened had Caspar looked over at Balthazar and said, “I’m sick of this stinking camel; you guys lollygag if you want, but I’m going to hurry up and get there!” If they had arrived a month early, Jesus wouldn’t have been born yet! Suppose Melchoir had grown despondent: “Hey Balthazar, this pace is killing me, we need to slow down.” If they had arrived a month late, Jesus would have been gone! The wise men had to arrive in the timing of the Lord. Not a month early. Not a month late.
This highlights again the way God works. He’s never late, and seldom early. Remember that the next time you grow anxious and want to rush ahead or get frustrated and want to quit. God’s timing is impeccable. Ps 27:14:
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.