Here is an interesting Q+A from an article that crossed my inbox today, titled: Answer Line: Following the wise men to Jesus in the Longview News-Journal. It is one of those things that just begs a response for our readers who love The Urantia Book, or those who want to know more about it. This is, of course, a very timesly question. My short blog with a response from Urantia Book revelation is below, but here's the qestion and the answer as given:
QUESTION: My question is about the Christmas story. I read the Christmas story about the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. When the wise men arrived two years later, they brought the gifts to him in a house. Was this house in the town of Bethlehem or Nazareth. Well, I read Luke and another version of the Bible. It says they returned to Nazareth. Have I opened a can of worms?
ANSWER: Theology professor Dr. Viktor Roudkovski was kind enough to email some information to help shed light on this. First, he pointed to Matthew 2:7-12, which of course talks about Herod sending the wise men to Bethlehem. Roudkovski said it's likely that Jesus' family lived in a house in Bethlehem for one to two years after Christ's birth. Then, the wise men came. Then Joseph was warned in a dream to escape with his family to Egypt because of Herod's plans to kill the baby. Then, Herod died and God told Joseph it was safe. That's when the family would have moved to Nazareth, which fulfilled the prophecy that Jesus was a Nazarene.
Click to read the whole article, which has even more Q+A in it...
Most people know the Christmas story as told in the Bible. And it is a charming and very enduring story. Most everyone knows that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, that Mary and Jesus went there to fulfill the census requirement, that they could not find lodging at the inns in the town, that Jesus was born in very humble surroundings...and they also know about the Magi - the wise men who brought gifts - as well as the star that guided these dignitaries to Jesus. All by itself, it is a compelling story; but in The Urantia Book, we find details and context and color that has been unimaginable until now. This is true in regards to nearly all of the elements of the story, including the visitation of the wise men, discussed in the article above.
Here are a few passages from Paper 122: The Birth and Infancy of Jesus; it is the new and accurate story of Jesus' nativity and includes details about the three visitors - who they were, why they came, and when they came to see Jesus. I recommend anyone who wants "the rest of the story" to click the link and read the nativity story as you may have never heard it before.
122:8.5 At the noontide birth of Jesus the seraphim of Urantia, assembled under their directors, did sing anthems of glory over the Bethlehem manger, but these utterances of praise were not heard by human ears. No shepherds nor any other mortal creatures came to pay homage to the babe of Bethlehem until the day of the arrival of certain priests from Ur, who were sent down from Jerusalem by Zacharias [the father of John the Baptist].
122:8.6 These priests from Mesopotamia had been told sometime before by a strange religious teacher of their country that he had had a dream in which he was informed that "the light of life" was about to appear on earth as a babe and among the Jews. And thither went these three teachers looking for this "light of life." After many weeks of futile search in Jerusalem, they were about to return to Ur when Zacharias met them and disclosed his belief that Jesus was the object of their quest and sent them on to Bethlehem, where they found the babe and left their gifts with Mary, his earth mother. The babe was almost three weeks old at the time of their visit.
We next learn the true story of the "star of Bethlehem" that legend says guided these wise men from Ur:
122:8.7 These wise men saw no star to guide them to Bethlehem. The beautiful legend of the star of Bethlehem originated in this way: Jesus was born August 21 at noon, 7 B.C. On May 29, 7 B.C., there occurred an extraordinary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces. And it is a remarkable astronomic fact that similar conjunctions occurred on September 29 and December 5 of the same year. Upon the basis of these extraordinary but wholly natural events the well-meaning zealots of the succeeding generation constructed the appealing legend of the star of Bethlehem and the adoring Magi led thereby to the manger, where they beheld and worshiped the newborn babe. Oriental and near-Oriental minds delight in fairy stories, and they are continually spinning such beautiful myths about the lives of their religious leaders and political heroes. In the absence of printing, when most human knowledge was passed by word of mouth from one generation to another, it was very easy for myths to become traditions and for traditions eventually to become accepted as facts.
Here's a little more info about Herod, King of Judea:
121:2.9 The Jews were unusually apprehensive and suspicious during the times of Jesus because they were then ruled by an outsider, Herod the Idumean, who had seized the overlordship of Judea by cleverly ingratiating himself with the Roman rulers. And though Herod professed loyalty to the Hebrew ceremonial observances, he proceeded to build temples for many strange gods.
121:2.10 The friendly relations of Herod with the Roman rulers made the world safe for Jewish travel and thus opened the way for increased Jewish penetration even of distant portions of the Roman Empire and of foreign treaty nations with the new gospel of the kingdom of heaven. Herod's reign also contributed much toward the further blending of Hebrew and Hellenistic philosophies.
And it is this same Herod who tried to track Jesus down and was determined to kill him, resulting in the slaughter of the innocents. The book does not specify, but one imagines that Herod was not eager to welcome any person who might be a threat to his total dominion over the Jewish peoples!
Back to Paper 122:
122:10.1 But the watchers for Herod were not inactive. When they reported to him the visit of the priests of Ur to Bethlehem, Herod summoned these Chaldeans to appear before him. He inquired diligently of these wise men about the new "king of the Jews," but they gave him little satisfaction, explaining that the babe had been born of a woman who had come down to Bethlehem with her husband for the census enrollment. Herod, not being satisfied with this answer, sent them forth with a purse and directed that they should find the child so that he too might come and worship him, since they had declared that his kingdom was to be spiritual, not temporal. But when the wise men did not return, Herod grew suspicious. As he turned these things over in his mind, his informers returned and made full report of the recent occurrences in the temple, bringing him a copy of parts of the Simeon song which had been sung at the redemption ceremonies of Jesus. But they had failed to follow Joseph and Mary, and Herod was very angry with them when they could not tell him whither the pair had taken the babe. He then dispatched searchers to locate Joseph and Mary. Knowing Herod pursued the Nazareth family, Zacharias and Elizabeth remained away from Bethlehem. The boy baby was secreted with Joseph's relatives.
122:10.3 When, after more than a year of searching, Herod's spies had not located Jesus, and because of the suspicion that the babe was still concealed in Bethlehem, he prepared an order directing that a systematic search be made of every house in Bethlehem, and that all boy babies under two years of age should be killed. In this manner Herod hoped to make sure that this child who was to become "king of the Jews" would be destroyed. And thus perished in one day sixteen boy babies in Bethlehem of Judea. But intrigue and murder, even in his own immediate family, were common occurrences at the court of Herod.
122:10.4 The massacre of these infants took place about the middle of October, 6 B.C., when Jesus was a little over one year of age. But there were believers in the coming Messiah even among Herod's court attachés, and one of these, learning of the order to slaughter the Bethlehem boy babies, communicated with Zacharias, who in turn dispatched a messenger to Joseph; and the night before the massacre Joseph and Mary departed from Bethlehem with the babe for Alexandria in Egypt. In order to avoid attracting attention, they journeyed alone to Egypt with Jesus. They went to Alexandria on funds provided by Zacharias, and there Joseph worked at his trade while Mary and Jesus lodged with well-to-do relatives of Joseph's family. They sojourned in Alexandria two full years, not returning to Bethlehem until after the death of Herod.
By the time Jesus was about three years old, Herod had died and his son, Herod Antipas, had taken the throne in Galilee, where Nazareth was. And so, feeling that Herod's son might be better than his father had been, Joseph took his little family there for good in 4 BC.
Read more in Paper 123: The Early Childhood of Jesus.
Even though the three wise men came to see Jesus very early in his infancy, and not years later, there is an interesting piece of information about a significant visit that Jesus did have when he was about two years old:
123:0.3 Throughout the two years of their sojourn at Alexandria, Jesus enjoyed good health and continued to grow normally. Aside from a few friends and relatives no one was told about Jesus' being a "child of promise." One of Joseph's relatives revealed this to a few friends in Memphis, descendants of the distant Ikhnaton, and they, with a small group of Alexandrian believers, assembled at the palatial home of Joseph's relative-benefactor a short time before the return to Palestine to wish the Nazareth family well and to pay their respects to the child. On this occasion the assembled friends presented Jesus with a complete copy of the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. But this copy of the Jewish sacred writings was not placed in Joseph's hands until both he and Mary had finally declined the invitation of their Memphis and Alexandrian friends to remain in Egypt. These believers insisted that the child of destiny would be able to exert a far greater world influence as a resident of Alexandria than of any designated place in Palestine. These persuasions delayed their departure for Palestine for some time after they received the news of Herod's death.
One can't help but wonder what might have happened had Mary and Joseph accepted the invitation to raise Jesus in Egypt. Of course, it is simply speculation...but of interest is the reference to Ikhnaton, a pivotal figure in Egyptian history. See "The Remarkable Ikhnaton" to find out more about him.
And there you have it - at least the bare bones of the story. There is much more in Paper 122 and Paper 123 (links above), including great detail about Mary and Joseph.
That's only the beginning!
And if you have ever been curious about those "lost years" of the Master's life between his infancy and his teenage years and beyond, look no further than this link, where all of those years are recounted for you.
Marry Christmas one and all!!!