“And while they were there, the days were fulfilled for her to give birth” (Luke 2: 6).
Is December 25 really the birthday of our Lord Jesus or was it a heathen feast provided with a Christian jacket as some people claim? The answer to both questions is no; December 25 is not the actual birthday of Jesus, nor is it obtained from paganism.
What is true, though, is that December 25, since the fourth century AD. the Christian church’s feast day is the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Note: his birth and not his birthday.
To celebrate a king’s birth on a day other than his birthday is nothing strange. The British Queen’s birthday is April 21. However, her official birthday is celebrated ceremonially on every second Monday in June. The British celebrate her birthday and not her birthday. At Christmas, the presses are the same; it is not a birthday commemoration, but a commemoration of a birth – Jesus’. And that’s two different things.
Jesus’ birth must have been very close to December 25th. The early church, based on ancient Jewish scriptures, set the time of Zechariah’s service in the temple. Zechariah was John the Baptist’s father and priests had to perform yearly ministry in the temple in Jerusalem.
Zechariah’s turn of duty was in September of that year. And at that time, an angel appeared to him and informed him of his son’s coming birth. Work it out now – Elizabeth was six months pregnant when an angel informed Mary of Jesus’ coming birth and so in March of that year. The early church calculated this date on March 25. Jesus’ birth was nine months later – December 25th.
There are numerous objections to this date. December is winter in the Northern Hemisphere and shepherds would probably not have kept watch over the sheep in the cold. It’s possible. Yet it must be borne in mind that sheep were slaughtered at the temple throughout the year and came mainly from Bethlehem (near Jerusalem). That is why it could have been in December.
We know from ancient scriptures that Christmas was not celebrated in the early church, but only from 386 AD. when it became a fixed date in the church. After that, December 25 was found everywhere. Centuries later, critics proclaimed that Christmas had a pagan origin and accused the Roman Church of Christianizing a pagan feast. There is no evidence of any such allegation.
Christmas Day, however, was very close to the winter solstice celebrated by the ancient Romans on December 26 with a sun feast in honor of the invincible sun. It was a week-long festival of December 16-23 that was accompanied by revelry. From old church writings there is no indication that a date was borrowed from Gentiles or that a Gentile festival received a Christian blazer!
The exact date of Jesus’ birth really doesn’t matter. Christians do not commemorate his birthday, but the wonderful fact that He was born to be our Savior. And that’s what the Bible says: “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,” (Luke 2: 6). Not the day, but the wonder that the great Creator-God leaves his heavenly home to become human among us.
Consequently, the question is not whether we should celebrate Christmas, but how we should celebrate it. Christmas is a time of goodwill – a time of giving. God gave; we must also give. That’s why we give each other gifts. Unfortunately, what should be holy became a trade festival – not in honor of Jesus but in honor of Mammon! And to prevent Christmas pageants for Gentiles, the Mammon servants prefer to speak of the Festive Season.
In its ugliest form, Christmas for unbelievers is the opportunity to fiddle and party without thinking for a moment about the true meaning of the day. Hundreds of people are arrested for drunken driving every year on Christmas Day.
Then there are also people who try to experience the peace of the Christmas story without letting the Prince of Peace into their lives. No, Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to remind one another of the purpose of His coming: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10).
Compare Christmas to Easter. One commemorates Jesus’ coming to earth and the other his departure. One is about a birth and the other about a death. Christmas is a time of true celebration and Easter of sorrow over sin and humiliation before God. Yes, there is a time for everything!
Believers must also “catch spirit” during the Christmas season in the sense of the word. That brings us into a different mood. It would be great if we could catch the Christmas spirit in jars and open one of them every month to refresh our homes like a nice can of spray!
I believe that Christmas is a festive event that God has provided. If it were a pagan thing, God would have intervened in the church centuries ago and stopped it. We believe that Jesus sits at the right hand of God from where He rules His church. He knows exactly what He wants to do with the church.
Believers should always make something beautiful about Christmas; decorate their homes and explain to children why we give each other gifts, and it is very important that there is a God in heaven who gives and not a Santa somewhere in the ice world. The main thing is: Celebrate Christmas around the true Christ.
Believers must participate in Christmas celebrations such as a Christmas song service, Christmas play or Christmas service. It’s good to be excited as a kid during the Christmas tide. It’s good to be excited as a kid during the Christmas tide. Celebrate Christmas in peace with each other. Lay down the battle axes for those who do not have Christmas in their heart, in vain look for it in gift wrappers under a Christmas tree.
Christmas is about God’s love:“ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son …, ”(John 3:16). What God has come to do in Christ is the eternal measure of what love is. Therefore, we must celebrate Jesus’ birth by showing love. After all, our mutual love stems from God’s love for us. It’s nice to be together and do something special for each other.
What do people see in your home this Christmas season? On occasion King Hezekiah was fatally ill, after which God miraculously healed him. Shortly thereafter he received foreign visitors who wanted to enter into an alliance with Israel. During a sightseeing tour, Hezekiah showed them everything, from his armor to his treasure chests, and bathed him in the sun of display.
When the foreigners left, Isaiah asked him, “What have they seen in your palace?” (2 Kings 20:15). Hezekiah was suddenly very shy. He showed the Gentiles everything but his sick bed and testified of God’s healing miracle. Hezekiah slipped a golden opportunity through his fingers. Don’t let people see anything but Jesus in your home this Christmas!