Column: "One Layman's Outlook": Why worry about when Christ's birth was?
by Larry Elkins
Well it's probably past Christmas time by the time you read this. Then again maybe it wasn't even Christmas at all. I've been hearing a lot recently about how Jesus wasn't born on Dec. 25, and how Christmas was a pagan festival in ancient Rome.
I've heard this all about 10 years ago. I just told the guy that Christmas was the day I celebrate the birth of my Savior. If he didn't like Dec. 25, then he should just pick a day. There are 364 more to choose from.
I guess things like this make the rounds ever so often. I remember a few years earlier someone was trying to tell everyone that they had to start calling Jesus by the name""Yeshua."
God showed me that didn't matter when an old friend of mine who had never heard the nickname "Stroller" started giving some of my other friends a hard time. She insisted that my name was "Larry." It didn't matter to me. I don't think it mattered to Jesus either. After all in Revelation 19:12, it says "His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself."
The chapter continues in verse 13 with, "...and his name is called The Word of God."
In verse 16 there is another name for Jesus, "...and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords."
As a matter of fact there are many names that the Bible, in any language or translation, given to Jesus. Why would He care by what name we call Him?
I figure it's the same way with Christmas.
At work everyone gets a birthday card on his or her birthday. This year my birthday was on Saturday. It escaped the notice of the one who keeps the calendar. The card meant just as much to me on a different day. God uses things in my own life to teach me. The person who kept the calendar felt bad and apologized, "but God meant it unto good." I'm glad it happened, God uses things like this to teach us about Himself.
For those of you who wish not to celebrate Christmas, that's fine with me. What I read of the teaching made a few valid points.
One was that December was too cold for shepherds to be "abiding in the fields." Maybe that's true. I don't know how far south Israel lies geographically. I think Florida would be warm enough. Some years it is even warm enough around here. I also don't know much about sheep, but I'm pretty sure they don't hibernate. Which means they would need to eat during the winter, and someone would need to watch them.
I don't know when Jesus was born. The teaching said that His birth wasn't important. It stated that we should concentrate on His sinless life and atoning death.
I think they might have missed the point. Scratch out that "might." Without His virgin birth there could have been no sinless life. Spiritual death passes to every person, at birth, from the original sin of Adam. That's a long lesson to teach just read Romans 5:12-21 and Timothy 2:14. Basically Eve was deceived. Adam sinned willing.
That's why Jesus told Nicodemus, "ye must be born again." He said, "born of water and the Spirit." Anyone who has ever witnessed a baby being born knows what "born of water" means. Being born "of the Spirit" is our birth into the spiritual kingdom of God.
The virgin birth of Jesus also explains and fulfills Genesis 3:15, about the seed of the woman. To sum up, His birth is very important, but the date it occurred isn't, especially since no one knows it.
The teaching tried to place Jesus' birth at the time of one of the Jewish feasts, to explain why there was no room at the inn. I recall something about a census and a tax and every man going to the city in which they were born. Imagine if every person born in Berryville had to return for some reason. I don't think our three motels would handle everyone. People would probably be renting out rooms in their houses and maybe even their barns.
Hey, if you celebrate Christmas, just make sure that you keep Jesus as the center and object of the celebration.
If your conscience doesn't allow you to celebrate Christmas, just keep in mind Colossians 2:16-17, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ."
The New International Version says, "But the reality, however, is found in Christ."
Reality is what it's all about. Tell my wife she can't celebrate Christmas. Yeah, right! Get real!!