A few days ago my children asked me a question about the birth of Jesus, which they had been reading. I could not answer it and would appreciate your help. My children want to know why Jesus was laid in a manger — yet the Wise Men saw Him in a house. How could this be?
When Jesus was born, the same night shepherds were given the news by angels. "And there were in the same country shepherds,.. And the angel said unto them,... For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior" (Luke 2:8-11). That very day the shepherds saw Christ in the MANGER (Luke 2:15-16). The need for a manger was due to the temporarily crowded conditions. Several weeks after the visit of the shepherds Jesus was taken to Jerusalem by His parents. "And when the days of her (Mary's) purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord' (Luke 2:22). According to Leviticus 12:2-4, Jesus was taken to Jerusalem nearly six weeks after His birth. "If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days. And she then will continue in... her purifying three and thirty days." When Joseph and Mary returned to Bethlehem they then moved into a HOUSE, where the Wise Men finally saw Jesus for the first time. "And when they (the Wise Men) were come into the HOUSE, they saw the young child with Mary his mother" (Matt. 2:11). So now we can see that the Wise Men and shepherds did not visit Jesus at the same time. The Wise Men saw Him weeks after the shepherds did, and therefore visited Jesus in the house. As further proof that the Wise Men saw Jesus after His parents took Him to Jerusalem, we find that Joseph in a vision was ordered to go into Egypt as soon as the Wise Men left (Matt. 2:12-14). Therefore the Wise Men saw Jesus some-time after He returned with His parents from Jerusalem, and just before they fled to Egypt. Upon their return to Palestine from Egypt, Jesus' parents resided at Nazareth, not Bethlehem. This, then, is the answer and solution to your question.