We’ve all heard a myriad of reasons why Dec. 25 “can’t possibly be” Jesus’ actual birthday. Here are just a few:
• Mary and Joseph came to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census (Luke 2:1-4). Such censuses were not taken in winter when temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor condition. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating.
• Shepherds were in the fields “watching their flocks” at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:7-8), but shepherds were not in the fields during December. Luke’s account suggests that Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. Since December is cold and rainy in Judea, it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night.
• Other biblical accounts also point to the fall of the year as the most likely time of Jesus’ birth, based on the conception and birth of John the Baptist.
• Christmas (December 25th) was simply chosen as a convenient celebratory day on the same day of a pagan holiday that celebrated the winter solstice.
And the list goes on and on . . .
I’m definitely not a biblical scholar, not by any stretch of the imagination, but I have always thought that since the Bible is pretty much silent on the actual date of His birth, it must not be something we really need to know. But what is important is that we celebrate a day!
December 25 is celebrated in many forms, and many of them do not in any way honor our Savior. But still, all around the world people know it is the day Christians celebrate the birth of God’s Son, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Whether they believe in Him or not, they still know why the date is special and at least for a few fleeting seconds (although perhaps begrudgingly and skeptically) acknowledge His birth.
Of course, Christians should celebrate Jesus every day of the year because He is our Savior and Lord. But what about those who never think of Him at all except on December 25 when they know Christians celebrate their newborn Savior (and possibly Easter when they know we celebrate our risen Savior). Isn’t having a specific date (whether it’s right or wrong) the right thing to do?
So, is December 25 the right date? Probably not. But I, for one, don’t care.
Many years ago, our little three-year-old granddaughter, Savana, asked to “say the prayer” at the Christmas dinner table. We figured someone else would have to say the “real prayer” after she finished her rendition of “God is gweat, God is gud, and we fank Him for our food, AMEN!”
But with all heads still bowed, the rest of the family immediately joined in as we heard that sweet little voice singing, “Happy Burtday to you, Happy Burtday to you, Happy Burtday, Dear Jesus. Happy Burtday to you.”
Did Savana care if December 25 was the right date? No. She just knew we were having a “Burtday” party for someone she loved. Shouldn’t we all have that attitude?
Whatever date it was on the calendar, it was a day that changed the world because it was the day Jesus, the Messiah, the only Son of God, was born in a lowly Bethlehem manger. That baby was the first and only perfect Christmas gift who would grow up and, through His death on the cross, pay the penalty for our sins in full.
To receive eternal life and total forgiveness for our sins, all we have to do is open our hearts and accept His gift of eternal life. So simple, but so profound!
It all began that Christmas so long ago, and it is a day all of us will celebrate. The specific date may or may not be right, but does it really matter?
Happy Dec. 25, everyone!