Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | December 25, 2019

Christmas Jigsaw Puzzle

(4 Minute Read)

Miracle in Bethlehem” is the name of the 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle that I worked this month, pictured below. Created by artist Liz Goodrick-Dillon and manufactured by Cobble Hill, it is a large puzzle measuring 26.625″ x 19.25″. Click the picture to enlarge it and see details.

Miracle In Bethlehem

It is a beautiful picture; we particularly admire the lighting by lanterns and the jewel-tone colors.

But the scene portrayed never actually occurred in history.

Since the birth of Jesus certainly happened, what could I mean by that statement?

Study the pictured scene. Do you see what is wrong with this picture? Read on to find out.

The puzzle picture is a manger scene in a stable shortly after the birth of Jesus. Mary holds the Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. The rustic manger in the left foreground is made from short poles lashed together with rawhide. Joseph, her betrothed husband, looks on over Mary’s shoulder, as an angel hovers nearby. A young shepherd boy holding a lamb watches from just outside the stable enclosure which holds a reclining cow, donkey, and sheep.

A prominent star, suggestive of the star the magi saw in the east, shines brightly over the town of Bethlehem visible in the background. Featured in the puzzle picture are three magi offering gifts which the Apostle Matthew says are gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). One of the magi’s camels is visible behind them.

Have you figured out what is wrong with the picture? It is this. Everything about this scene is plausible except for the magi (wise men) and the angel who was probably not visible.

Luke reports that Mary laid the newborn Jesus “in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
(Luke 2:1-7)

Thus it is likely that Mary and Joseph were camping out in some sort of lodging for animals like a stable or barn with animals nearby, although Luke does not identify their specific accommodation. Apparently Joseph overlooked going online to reserve a room at the Bethlehem Inn before leaving from Nazareth.

It is certain that the magi were NOT at the manger. Matthew reports the magi arrived in Jerusalem “after Jesus was born” (Matthew 2:1). He says the magi entered the house and saw Jesus as a young child in Bethlehem. Jesus was not an infant in a manger when the magi visited to worship Him.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11 KJV)

Since Herod slew all the little boys from two years old and under in and around Bethlehem based on the time the star appeared (Matthew 2:7,16), Jesus was probably between 1 and 2 years old when the magi visited and worshiped Him in a house in Bethlehem — long after He had left the manger behind.

It was the very day Jesus was born that the angel of the Lord suddenly made a spectacular announcement to shepherds:
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8-12)

Suddenly a vast multitude of the heavenly host joined the angel and proclaimed to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:13-14)

Thus instead of wise men, a Biblically accurate manger scene should feature a group of shepherds worshiping the newborn King — the magi were not there.
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. (Luke 2:15-16)

This jigsaw puzzle manger scene is a composite picture of things that really happened — although not at the same time and not even at the manger.

Although many manger scenes include both the Star and the Magi with the shepherds, the magi were not present at the birth site as the shepherds were (Luke 2:10-16). In our nativity scenes at home, we make it a teaching opportunity by placing the wise men figures separately from the manger as they undertake their long trek from the east seeking the new King of the Jews.

Thus Mary and Joseph probably did not see the magi’s star the night Jesus was born, but they likely did see it over Bethlehem a year or so later when the magi visited their house to worship Jesus.

Despite my criticism of the picture as historically inaccurate, I applaud a beautiful jigsaw puzzle highlighting the birth of Jesus. It is an important event that is still celebrated worldwide 2,000 years after it occurred.

Who were the magi who saw “His star” and came to worship the King of the Jews? What was the Star of Bethlehem? Read The Magi and The Star for suggestions.

To clarify in your mind the order of nativity events and how the gospel accounts fit together chronologically, read the Record of Christmas, a harmonization of Scripture passages on the birth of Jesus. The 2019 Christmas Quiz is a fun game to help learn this.

Meaning of Christmas

Why is what the shepherds and magi saw 2,000 years ago important? Why do we still celebrate it every year two millenia later?

The answer is that Christmas commemorates the birth of the Great Creator Himself who was born to save mankind from sin and eternal death. The Great Creator, the One who made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them in six days (Exodus 20:11) including you, me, and all mankind, is the One who was miraculously born of a young virgin girl in Bethlehem.

Why in the world would He do such an mind-boggling thing? He came to earth via the virgin Mary’s womb for the explicit purpose of redeeming man as the perfect representative of the human race. He lived a sin-free life and died on a Roman cross as a sacrifice for sin. As a result, anyone who places their faith in Him receives eternal life. (Read the Good News of Christmas.)

This God-man, Jesus of Nazareth, is the One whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. He alone is worthy of devotion, obedience, and worship.

Christmas Blessings to all the readers of the Bible-Science Guy Blog!

Questions to Ponder

1. Why did the multitude of angels announce the Messiah’s birth to shepherds instead of to dignitaries like King Herod and Jewish leaders in Jerusalem? (Luke 2:8-17)
2. What happened to the magi’s gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh?

Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

For Christ and His Kingdom. Soli Deo Gloria.

This blog article is the third in an intermittent Series on Jigsaw Puzzles.
Read the prequels:
1. Jigsaw Murder Mystery (with video)
2. Jigsaw Puzzles – Benefits

Read the sequel:
4. Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday December 25, 2019 A.D.

You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: “Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (1 Peter 2:5-6)

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