(November 16, 2021) Dr Robert McQuillan responds to this query about Christmas
Dear Dr Robert
It’s me, Mitch… again. As mentioned before, I appreciate the help you’ve given me. Here’s something else – A couple of people have been pointing out things to me about Christmastime next month… that it’s unbiblical to celebrate as no one knows the date of Jesus’ birth… that Christians believe more in Santa Claus than they do about Jesus. What can I say to them? Mitch.
Yes it’s true that no one really knows the exact date of Christ’s birth, when Mary gave birth to the babe who would grow up able to understand all our feelings, problems, temptation and such… and become our Saviour. And, yes, the Bible encourages us to celebrate Easter, our salvation through Jesus and communion rather that Christmas.
So let’s cut to the chase here… we who know Jesus as Saviour should be grateful, but how can we really celebrate his incarnation, like the shepherd and magi did? Well, a very long time ago it was decided by ‘church powers’ to name December 25 as Christ’s ‘birthday’ and the day to be universally celebrated. The reality is that the date doesn’t really matter… Jesus willingly came for our benefit, to become our Saviour and we should rejoice over this (and not merely celebrating ‘Santa Claus fun time’ with our children)!
- To be open and help you further here, another seasonal myth is the number of magi and their arrival time. Firstly, we’ve always told that there were three wise men who came from afar (Babylon?) searching for the child born to be king. Yet scripture doesn’t tell us how many magi actually came (Matthew 2:1)! Again it doesn’t matter much… the point is that that it was much unusual that Magi would come worshipping this babe!
- Secondly, Luke 2:16 clearly tells that the shepherds moving with haste after they’d been given the good news by angels of a Saviour, found Jesus the baby (brephos) in the manger (phatnē). It’s told, even dramatised in movies and TV shows, that the ‘three magi’ arrived either with those shepherds or shortly afterwards… yet scripture (Matthew 2:11) tells us that they found ‘the young child’ (paidion) in the house (hohēto oikia meaning residence).
- Many theologians believe this visitation could have been two years after Jesus’s birth as Matthew 2:16 tells that troubled Herod, not hearing again from the magi, wickedly ordered that all children (pais) aged two and under were to be slaughtered.
But whatever… again let’s not be confused and hindered in our faith here! May we all at Christmastime celebrate God’s greatest gift of the Messiah, the Saviour, not quibble foolishly! And be generous expressing the Christmas spirit. After all, the main thing – the major thing – is that Jesus willing came to earth to win souls and cause all who accept him as Saviour and Lord to become redeemed children of God! Hallelujah!
More Blessings, Mitch. Enjoy this coming Christmastime, despite living in a troubled and rebellious world.
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