This will probably not be my most popular posting.
I saw a post online on December 26th in a Christian group stating that 2023 years ago Jesus would have been about two days old. I politely disagreed with the woman who posted the statement. None of that added up for me.
Do we know exactly when Jesus was born? No. We don’t. What we do know for sure is that it was not December 25th. The shepherds would not have been outside tending their flocks at night at that time of the year.
It’s probable that Jesus was born in the Fall. We can figure at least that much because we can historically figure what time of the year it was when Zacharias was told by the angel that his wife, Elizabeth would conceive. We know that from the setting – the service that he was performing in the temple. So, if we know when Elizabeth conceived, and we know how pregnant she was when Mary visited her, then we can draw a rough conclusion about when Christ was born.
The date of December 25th was chosen as a date to commemorate his birth. The date was taken from a pagan holiday; the birth of the new SUN, not SON. Lots of pagan things crept into Christianity from Rome. It’s not a slam on celebrating the birth of Jesus, it’s just historical fact. One of the other group members seemed to take great offense at this and started a long thread about how I was nit-picking and getting caught up in trivial things instead of seeking Jesus.
For the record, I’m seeking Jesus every time I put my nose in the Bible. I want to know WHO Jesus IS, and the way to know Him is to read the scriptures. Read the prophecies in the old testament about him, read his words and his story and his promises in the new testament. I want to know everything about my savior. And I want what I know to be the TRUTH. So, no, my salvation does not hinge on knowing when he was born, but I prefer to know the truth and the facts. The truth should always be important. The truth should never be considered trivial. Another contributor to the thread brought up a good point – if we claim December 25th as his birth date and not just as a celebration date, then we will inevitably be challenged by non-believers to prove that date. And we can’t. Because it’s fiction.
Does this mean that I don’t celebrate Christmas? King of yes, kind of no. I spend time considering his birth, his life, his sacrifice, his resurrection every single day of my life. December 25th is a day when we all get time off from work. We get to see friends and family we don’t normally get to see at other times of the busy year. It’s a time when people are generally happier and kinder and more giving. There are great sales on stuff. And lots of food and breaks from diets. What’s not to like? My husband and I go and visit his family at Christmas. We have a good time. It’s kind of like Thanksgiving 2.0. But it’s a secular celebration for us, a time to celebrate family and friends.
What would happen if someone could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christ was born on September 17th? Or October 2nd? What would Christians do? Would they say that it doesn’t matter what date we choose, as long as we are celebrating his birth, and continue to do it on December 25th? Because that’s what the tradition of man is? What does the Bible say about the traditions of men?
And, where in the Bible does God instruct us to observe any day at all as far as Christ’s birth goes? God is pretty specific in his instructions when He wants us to do something. Really. Look at the detail He goes into in His Word when he wants us to observe a day, or mark an occasion. Especially in the Old Testament. If God had specifically wanted us to commemorate His son’s birthday He would have made the date very clear and told us to do it. But He didn’t. Christ’s birth wasn’t the point of His life – his ministry, sacrifice and work of the cross – that’s what’s important. That’s what we need to spend a thoughtful hour on each and every day, not just once a year.
“But Jesus is the reason for the season!” I hear. And, “I celebrate Christmas to give glory to God!” Okay. Great. Super. Nothing wrong with that. But really, how much of the “Christmas season” is actually dedicated to worshiping Jesus in comparison to how much time is spent picking and decorating a tree? Shopping for presents? Getting drunk at the office party? Baking cookies? Again – nothing wrong with baking cookies, I love cookies. Nothing wrong with shopping for presents, I love presents. Is there ever a bad time to spend time with family and friends? I don’t think so.
But IS Jesus TRULY at the center of all of that at Christmas?
I feel like our savior kind of gets short changed on a holiday that’s named after Him. There’s so much commercialized nonsense that goes hand in hand with this holiday now, it goes beyond ridiculous and into sacrilegious. Santa Claus? Are you kidding me? The birth of our savior has what to do with a fat guy in a red suit climbing down the chimney to leave materialistic gifts? Buying yourself a Lexus for the holiday because you deserve it? How does that mesh with the message of Jesus’ birth – the savior who had to come because all we really deserve is eternal separation from God?
When Santa and presents and cookies and shopping and trees and decorating take more time than honoring God, then it becomes idolatry, which is something God isn’t really a fan of. I wish we DID know the exact date of His birth because then we could split the holiday – December 25th can stand as a family, gift-giving holiday, and the real date could actually be dedicated to remembering His birth. But I’m sure we’d manage to screw that one up, too.
Most people ask me why it matters, it’s such a trivial little thing. Not even worth mentioning. But when we start accepting ONE false doctrine, when one falsehood is accepted then what’s next? It’s a slippery slope. What’s the next incorrect thing that’s accepted by the world that’s going to be classified as “nit picky” or “trivial”? And the next? And the next? You don’t think Satan wins every time we take our eyes off of what is true? “Did God really say that you couldn’t eat from that tree?”
Don’t get me started on the Easter Bunny.