Jerry C. Brewer
What the world calls “Christmas” is mythology, perpetuated by the Roman Catholic Church, and later adopted by Protestants. Little does the world know that even Protestant religions refused to celebrate Christmas as the birthday of Christ until about the 19th century. When Protestantism was really protesting against Catholicism, it would not adopt Catholic religious days.
What can we learn from the Bible about Christmas? Nothing. It isn’t in the Bible, nor is there any Bible authority for celebrating the birth of Christ. The world does not even know the date of His birth. However, we can explode myths about Christ’s birth from God’s Word.
The Time Of Jesus’ Birth
It’s more likely that Christ was born in Spring or Summer, rather than in Winter. Judean shepherds did not keep their flocks in the fields by night in the winter because of the cold temperatures. Judea is approximately the same latitude as Oklahoma. That means it often freezes around December 25 in that part of the world, as it does in ours.
There is another reason for His birth being in Spring. Jesus is called the Lamb of God, a symbol of meekness and innocence. Ewes generally give birth to lambs in Spring, so it would not stretch the power of reason a great deal to understand that, perhaps, the Lamb of God was also born in the Spring.
“Peace On Earth”
Catholic and Protestant religionists, steeped in humanistic thinking, have foisted the phrase, “peace on earth,” upon the secular world and defined it to mean a cessation of human conflict. It is viewed today as announcing peace instead of carnal war, and a general feeling of good toward one’s fellow man. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When the angels appeared to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth, they announced, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). The peace they announced had nothing to do with carnal things like war, or personal conflicts between men. In fact, Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). Did Jesus contradict what the angels announced when He was born? Did He come to send peace, or a sword? The Bible answers, “both.”
The “peace” announced by the angels is reconciliation of man to God through Jesus Christ. Only in and through Jesus Christ can any of us have “peace” with God. Paul said as much: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). The fellowship mankind once had with God was broken when Adam and Eve sinned. Sin has separated all men from God (Isa. 59:1-2), and Christ came into the world to restore that fellowship with God. That is accomplished through justification by His blood (Eph. 1:7) when we are baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3-5). That is the import of the angels’ announcement.
The “sword” that Jesus brought, instead of peace, was the very thing that brings peace between man and God—the gospel. The gospel preached, believed, and obeyed makes one a child of God. When that takes place, families are often divided, and there is probably not a Christian reading this who is not separated from family members because he is a child of God. There is no contradiction between Luke 2:14 and Matthew 10:34. Luke speaks of peace between man and God through the blood of the Lamb of God, and Matthew speaks of the sword of Truth that divides those who obey it from family members who hate it.
Visit Of The Wise Men
There were no wise men present on the night Jesus was born. The shepherds were the only visitors to the stable revealed in the Bible. Nor does the Bible speak of three wise men. It says only that, “there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born king of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Matt. 2:1-2). No one knows how many wise men came, only that it was a plurality. It could have been two, three, five, or a dozen or more, but the Bible does not say three.
The wise men’s visit was more than a year after Jesus was born, and was to a house. Luke says the shepherds visited the scene of Christ’s birth on the night he was born, “and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:16). But when the wise men visited, Matthew records their visit at a house. “…and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother…” (Matt. 2:9-11).
The phrase, “young child,” was used by Matthew to describe Jesus at the house, but Luke used the term, “babe,” describing Jesus in the manger (Luke 2:16). Luke’s “babe” is from brephos, which McClintock and Strong define as, “Infant, (prop. unborn) babe…” Matthew’s phrase, “young child” (Matt. 2:11), is from paidion, which McClintock and Strong define as, “Infant, or by extension a half grown boy or girl, little child.” That indicates a great deal of time between Jesus’ birth and the wise men’s visit.
When Herod had the children, “two years old and under” slain in Bethlehem, it was, “according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men” (Matt. 2:16). The “time” he asked of the wise men was when the star appeared (Matt. 2:7). The star indicating Jesus’ birth was apparently determined by mathematical calculation by the wise men who were Persians. They knew of Daniel’s prophecies and, as astronomers, determined that the birth would coincide with the appearance of this star, which was approximately two years before their visit to Herod.
Many other myths about the birth of Christ have been perpetuated by false religions which claim to be “Christian.” These have also been mingled with pagan myths and ceremonies and resulted in what the world calls “Christmas” today. These examples we have given ought to be enough to dispel any silly notion that this time of year is when Christ was born. It should be noted that the Bible is silent on the time of His birth, or any command to celebrate it.
The single greatest event in all of history is the death of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world. To that end, the New Testament instructs us to remember that event upon the first day of the week (Acts 20:7) by taking the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine in memory of the body and blood of Christ (Matt. 26:26-29). O, that men adored the Christ of Calvary as much as their misguided adoration of the Babe in the manger! As important as it was, it was not His birth, but His death that saves men by His blood. Let us not be caught up in the mythology of “Christmas” which began as a Catholic/Pagan celebration with no basis in Holy Writ. Rather, let us remember the suffering and death of our Risen, Living, Triumphant Lord who now reigns over His kingdom, and who is coming again to judge the world.