Did You Know?
When did the astrologers visit Jesus?
In Matthew’s Gospel, we are told that “astrologers from eastern parts” visited Jesus, bringing him gifts. (Matthew 2:1-12; footnote) How many of these astrologers, or “magi,” visited the child Jesus is not disclosed, and there is no firm basis for the traditional notion that there were three; neither are they named in the Biblical account.
The New International Version Study Bible makes this comment on Matthew 2:11: “Contrary to tradition, the Magi did not visit Jesus at the manger on the night of his birth as did the shepherds. They came some months later and visited him as a ‘child’ in his ‘house.’” This is verified by the fact that Herod, when seeking to have the young child killed, ordered the slaughter of all boys two years of age and under throughout Bethlehem and its districts. He targeted that age group by calculating “according to the time that he had carefully ascertained from the astrologers.”—Matthew 2:16.
Had these astrologers visited Jesus on the night of his birth and brought gold and other valuable gifts, it is unlikely that Mary would have offered only two birds 40 days later when she presented Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem. (Luke 2:22-24) This was a provision in the Law for poor people who could not afford a young ram. (Leviticus 12:6-8) However, these valuable gifts may have been timely and useful in financing the stay of Jesus’ family in Egypt.—Matthew 2:13-15.
Why did it take Jesus four days to arrive at the tomb of Lazarus?
Basically, it seems that Jesus arranged matters that way. Why can we say that? Consider the account recorded in John chapter 11.
When Lazarus, a resident of Bethany and a friend of Jesus, fell seriously ill, his sisters sent word to Jesus. (Verses 1-3) At the time, Jesus was a two-day journey or so from Bethany. (John 10:40) Lazarus evidently died about the time that the news reached Jesus. What did Jesus do? He “remained two days in the place where he was,” and then he left for Bethany. (Verses 6, 7) Hence, by waiting two days and then traveling two days, he arrived at the tomb four days after Lazarus’ death.—Verse 17.
Earlier, Jesus had performed two resurrections—one right after the death of the person and the other likely sometime later on the day of death. (Luke 7:11-17; 8:49-55) Could he raise up someone who had been dead for four days and whose body had already begun to decompose? (Verse 39) Interestingly, one Bible reference work says that among the Jews, there was a belief that no hope was possible “for a person who had been dead for four days; by then the body showed recognizable decay, and the soul, which was thought to hover over the body for three days, had left.”
If any of those gathered at the tomb had doubts, they were about to witness Jesus’ power over death. Standing before the open tomb, Jesus cried out: “Lazarus, come on out!” Then, “the man that had been dead came out.” (Verses 43, 44) The resurrection, not the false notion of many that the soul lives on after death, is the real hope for the dead.—Ezekiel 18:4; John 11:25.