Bible Question:

How old was Jesus when the wise men found Him?

Bible Answer:

The gospel of Luke records the conception of Jesus Christ in Luke 1:26-56 and His birth in Luke 2:1-7. Eight days later according to Mosaic custom, Jesus was taken to the temple to be circumcised and given His name. Then 40 days after His birth, He was taken to the temple and dedicated to God in obedience to Leviticus 12:4-5. Some time after that, the wise men or magi visited Christ (Matthew 2:1-11). The answer to the question is found in Matthew 2:1, 11 and 16.

Room For Animals In A Taybeh House

Birth of Christ In A Manger

The gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus Christ was born in a manger because His parents could not stay in the local inn.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7 (NASB)

The Greek word for “manger” is phatne which means “a box or crib where animals feed.”[1]  Consequently, we know that Jesus was born either in a cave[2] or on the bottom floor of a building since it was the custom in those days to keep animals on the bottom floor at night when the temperature was cold. The house may have been built in front of a cave. This was common in Bethlehem.

The lower room was the place where the family’s animals spent the night. According to an interpretation of the story offered in the following slides, Mary and Joseph were denied access to the comfortable guest chamber and instead Mary gave birth in the portion of the house where the animals were kept.[3]

Luke 2:8-21 tells us that an angel spoke to some shepherds who then visited Jesus after He was born that evening.

Magi Find Jesus In A House

The gospel of Matthew tells us that later some magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem asking where would the king of the Jews be born? (Matthew 2:1-3) The Roman governor, Herod the Great, asked the Jewish chief priests and scribes where He would be bor. After the Jewish chief priests and scribes searched the Scriptures they told Herod and the magi the Christ would be born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:4-8).

Consequently, the magi followed the light in the sky. It led them to the city of Bethlehem and to the place where Jesus was living with His parents.

After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they  fell to the ground and  worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:11 (NASB)

Verse 11 states that Jesus was living in a house. This reveals that Jesus’ parents had moved to a house. Contrary to popular nativity scenes and paintings, Christ was now living in a house when the magi visited Him. His parents had moved from the location of the manger. The magi stopped to worship Him and give Him gifts.

Verses 13-14 state that the magi left and Joseph was warned in a dream to take his family to Egypt. It is difficult to know how much time had elapsed since His birth at this point in time. But it is highly unlikely that the events happened quickly.

All Males Under Two Are Murdered

Matthew 2:16 tells us that when Herod realized that the magi had not returned to tell him the exact location of where the Christ was living, he ordered every child two years old and younger to be murdered.

 Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by  the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. Matthew 2:16 (NASB)

Verse 16 and verse 2 tell us that Herod the Great had determined that the magi had seen the star two years earlier. Consequently, Herod murdered all children from two years of age and under. This would reveal that Jesus was about two years of age when the magi visited Him.

Conclusion:

The gospel of Matthew reveals that Jesus was about two years of age when the wise men or magi visited Him. It is amazing all the information that Scripture gives us. In this case, the age of Christ is important since the information helps us understand the fulfillment of a prophecy in Jeremiah. Matthew 2:17 quotes Jeremiah 31:15.

Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children;
And she refused to be comforted,
Because they were no more.” Matthew 2:17 (NASB)

Matthew 2:17 helps understand why young children were murdered in the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:15. We can thank God for the many details He has given us in Scripture.

 

References:

1. Louw and Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. United Bible Societies, 1996, p. 69.
2. An early church father, Justin Martyr, states that Jesus was born in a cave (Letter to Paulinius, 58.3).
3. “Luke 2, Photo Companion.” BiblePlaces.com.

Reference Links:

Jesus Is Born In Bethlehem
Jesus’ Dedication
Arrival of the Magi