I guess most would consider it strange that I am determined not to preach or write on the birth of Christ anywhere near Dec. 25th! Yet here I am doing just that! My wife Elaine always tells me, “Don’t Bah, Humbug Christmas!” That is certainly not my aim but there are reasons for my hesitation.
I am sure you know that we have no idea the exact day of Jesus’ Birth. In fact we know for certain it could not be Dec. 25 and from many evidences we know it could not even be in December.
Have you ever wondered, if God thought the date was so important, why he didn’t give it to us? He did that with the Old Testament feasts like Passover, the Feast of the Lambs, Pentecost, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Every one of them has specific dates with specific activities right down to last crossed “T” and dotted “I”.
The facts about the birth of Christ are easy. The entire story is covered by just 44 verses in the Bible. There was little known of that event 2004 yrs ago yet secular history and Archeology confirm constantly what we accept by Faith. Jesus Christ was REAL! He is not just another of many mythical “good guys” but REAL.
The circumstances of His birth are compelling. Prophets spoke of the coming of God’s son from 200-900 Years in advance---in detail. He was to be born of a Virgin, in Bethlehem, and would change the events of History.
He is the RIGHT PERSON at the RIGHT TIME from the RIGHT PLACE of the RIGHT FAMILY and the RIGHT MOTHER for the RIGHT REASON.
The Infant Jesus is the Infinite God of this universe.
I Love the spirit of the season...and YET it is MOSTLY SECULAR. It is a time of family, good will, and a different spirit prevails. The contributions of clothing, food for the poor, help for needy children and individuals----why not in Name of Christ ALL YEAR LONG!
Are there needy only at end of December?
Are reminders of Christ not needed any other time?
Is the message of Peace on earth, good will to men, only seasonal?
Is not the Spirit of the Savior more important than the spirit of the season!
Most like to relegate Jesus to neat little “Day Tight” compartments like Sunday morning, Christmas or Easter. (That’s another discussion) Many try to put God in convenient boxes to be pulled out only when needed. Organized religion has become so structured, organized, and filed that His message gets somewhat bent and mutilated. “Oh, today’s the ‘pull the file on Jesus’ day.” The call to Christ is a commitment not a compartment.
I’m compelled to write this when I realize how easy it is for ideas of men to become “scriptural.” How easy it is for traditions to be treated the same as “Thus says the Lord.”
We do know that this December 25 celebration is not from Bible reference or command but had it’s origin in pagan celebrations. Consider these examples:
- The Egyptians celebrated Dec. 25th as the birth of their Sun God.
- The Evergreen tree was an object of worship with fire, lights, and candles. (Prophet Jeremiah pleaded with God’s people not to “learn the ways of those nations” in such matters. Jeremiah 10:1-6)
- Symbols like Holly and Ivy have their roots in Pagan mythology being signs of life and fertility
- The Yule Log came from the Celts, supposedly a “sacred” log of good luck and long life.
Space prohibits me from giving detailed examination of all the origins of the elements of modern “Christmas” activities but trust me---or better yet---study for yourself! EVERY element in this seasons celebration is pagan in origin.
In the early church, as Christianity spread, people wanted a solemn, religious holiday as they looked at the society around them. Everybody else was celebrating something, why not Christians too?
God’s people have always had a problem of wanting to be like everybody else!
The Romans celebrated worshipping the “God” Saturnalia from the middle of December to January 1st with garlands, green trees, candles, gifts, and meals. While denounced and forbidden early, in 137 AD, one Roman Bishop began “allowing” such celebrations.
By 352 AD Pope Julius 1 announced that he had “discovered” the birth date of Jesus (NOT!!) and issued the edict the faithful must observe December 25 as that date. In 1563 the Council of Trent issued a death sentence on those who failed to comply.
Paul, the Apostle, cautioned about “special days” pointing out in Romans 14 that the reason for the day was more important than the day itself.
He cautions against being enslaved by observing “special days and months and seasons.” (Galatians 4:8-11). He pleads that Christians not become captive to “hollow, deceptive philosophies depending on human tradition and principles of this world.” (Colossians 2:6-8)
YOU NEED TO KNOW THE TRUTH!
We do not know on what day He was born and when is not really important.
There is SOMETHING MORE IMPORTANT THAN HIS BIRTH.
You have to be born to die!
His BIRTH is significant only because His Death was vital!
That Gentle, meek and mild babe faced execution!
The Manger and the Cross belong side by side because the one is significant only because of the fact of the other.
Because of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection we have HOPE of eternal life (Eph. 2:12)
Because of Jesus we can be saved. (John 3:17)
Because of Jesus death I KNOW GOD LOVES ME (John 15:13)
He was born to “Save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:20)
He was BORN that we might be RE-BORN!
He came, lived, and died that we might live!
He gave His Life to give us NEW LIFE.
God has no natural-born children, but because of Jesus miraculous birth, life, death, and resurrection you can be born into the family of God!
From the Cradle to a Cross to a Crown! Jesus is too significant to be celebrated only “for a season”! Jesus Christ, His Birth, His Life, His Death, and His Resurrection should be so much a compelling part of our lives that we need no special day to recall it!
Here’s a challenge for you in the coming year. Think about what Christ has done for you EVERY day not just on December 25th. by Jim Kelly, Minister