Why is the traditional Nativity Scene wrong? Because if it is pictured like the one in the featured image the wrong people are there.
Please read on.
Before the Nativity Scene
First comes the account of the birth of Christ, described in detail by Luke in the account he wrote under the inspiration of God.
Luke 2: 2, 3: “(This registration first occurred when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) Then all went to be registered, each to his own city”
Joseph was of the line of David, who was born in Bethlehem, https://biography.yourdictionary.com/david
Joseph and Mary were living down in the area of Galilee.
Luke 2:4 – 9 “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the City of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was from the house and lineage of David to register himself along with Mary, who was betrothed to him as wife, and was great with child. And it came to pass that during the time they were there, the days were fulfilled for her to give birth” And she gave birth to her Son, the firstborn, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Now there were shepherds in the same country, who were dwelling in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night and keeping watch over their flock by night, and suddenly an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shined round about them; and they were seized with great fear”
The time of the birth/nativity scene
Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem when Jesus was born because it was prophesied that He would be born there.
No place at the inn, Was it an Inn?
They were in a stable. A little later they were in a house.
The angel announced the birth to the shepherds.
Luke 2: 10: “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I am announcing to you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. ‘For today, in the city of David, a Savior was born to you, Who is Christ the Lord. Now, this is the sign for you: you shall find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth among men of goodwill.’ And it came to pass, as the angels were departing from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now as far as Bethlehem, and let us see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us'” (vs 11-15).
Luke 2: 16: “And they made haste, and came and found both Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in the manger. Now after seeing Him, they made known everywhere the proclamation that they had been told concerning this little Child. And all those who heard were filled with wonder by the things that were spoken to them by the shepherds.”
After the birth
Then the Magi, (often called the ‘wise men,’ or ‘three kings’) visited Herod looking for this child who had been born king. After all, Herod was the king at the time.
Now to Matthew’s account…
Matthew 2: 7 – 9: “Then Herod secretly called for the Magi and ascertained from them the exact time of the appearing of the star….And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the little Child; and when you have found Him, bring word back to me, so that I also may go and worship Him. And after hearing the king, they departed; and behold, the star that they had seen in the east went in front of them, until it came and stood over the house where the little Child was. And after seeing the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they found the little Child with Mary His mother…”
This time they were in a house. Note, it also said they found the Child (not baby) with Mary, His mother.
So, it does not seem from these accounts that the Magi came to the stable at the time of the birth.
To me, point proven. Other than Mary and Joseph, only the shepherd boys witnessed the newborn Christ. Most nativity scenes, however attractive, are wrong, and of all the images I looked at the only one where the shepherds are not replaced by the Magi, who were still travelling, is the Rembrandt one. (Above)