“We ought to celebrate XMAS because it is Christ’s birth…It is a good work” Ads: “Put Christ back into Christmas” Churches: Christmas services I. Where Did Christmas Originate?
“Christmas” suggests a connection w. Christ If true, should find it in NT Mt. and Lk. are silent about XMAS and the time of His birth Allthings2 Pt.1:3 SecretthingsDt.29:29 Man’sthingsCol.2:20-23
Jesus was born Best guess is 7-4 B.C. • Only source: uninspired writers • Dionysius Exiguus (Roman monk) made calendar in A.D. 526 • In 1582 “Pope” Gregory corrected mistakes of 4-5 years, so 7-4 B.C.
Year, month, day: unknown “No one knows exactly when Jesus was born . . . Scholars do not know the exact date of Christ’s birth. For more than 300 years, people observed His birthday on various dates. In AD 354, Bishop Liberius of Rome ordered the people to celebrate it on Dec. 25” (World Book, p. 409, 416)
Pagan background “The first mention of the celebration of Christmas occurred in A.D.336 in an early Roman calendar, which indicates Dec. 25 as the day of observance. This celebra-tion was probably influenced by pagan (unchristian) festivals held at that time. The ancient Romans held year-end celebrations to honor Saturn, their har-vest god; and Mithras, the god of light” (World Book, 408)
The appeal of paganism “The pagan festival w. its riot and merry-making was so popular that Christians were glad of an excuse to continue its celebration w. little change in spirit or in manner” (Schaff-Herzog III, p.48)
Is Dec. 25 Christ’s birthday? “By different learned men it has been fixed at each month in the year. Nor is it of consequence to know the time; if it were, God would have preserved the record of it. Matters of moment are clearly revealed; those which he regards as of no importance are concealed” (A. Barnes; cf. M’Clintock & Strong VI, p. 861)
Final facts • The name comes from “Christes Masse,” later shortened to Christmas • Yule-tide: a winter festival, initially celebrated by Germanic peoples, as a pagan religious festival, though later absorbed into Christmas Lat.natus (born) Lat.natalis (birthday) Fr. / Eng. Noel
I. Where Did Christmas Originate? II. What Does The Bible Say?
Jesus the baby is “safe” • NT emphasizes His death and resur-rection, not His birth (Jn.16:13) • Memorials: Lord’ssupper: His death Mt.26:26-29 Ac.20:7 First dayof week: His res. Mt.28:1 1 Co.11:26 Waterbaptism: His DBR Ro.6:3-4 Col.2:11-13
What does Bible say about His birth? • Shepherds visit (same night): Lk.2:8-20 • Circumcision (eight days later): Lk.2:21 • Presentation (40 days later): Lk.2:22-38 (Lv.12:2-6) • Visit of wise men: Mt.2:1-12
The wise men(Mt.2) • Wise men (not shepherds) (1) • Number: unknown • From East (not nearby fields) (1) • Star (2, 9-10) • Found child, not baby (9) • In house, not manger (11) • Some 40 days to 2 years old (Lk.2)
Shepherds2. Circumcision3. Presentation4. Wise men 5. Star: Mt.2:2, 9-10 6. Journey to Egypt: Mt.2:13-15 7. Male children slaughtered: Mt.2:16-18 8. Return to Nazareth: Mt.2:19-23; Lk.2:39
I. Where Did Christmas Originate? II. What Does The Bible Say? III. What Does It Mean To Us?
Dangers of the season Growing laxin attendance: family overfaithfulness Extravagant spending:neglect goodstewardship Misuse of alcohol: Office parties“Christmas cheer” Caught up in thereligious side ofthe season: Ga.4:8-10
National holiday: no one can escape it • Affects work, schools; families • Mar. 3, 1984, Supreme Court ruling: a nativity scene has as much to do w. celebrating a national holiday as w. a religious observance (ABC)
Do not judgeinnocentactivities: Ro.14:1-5 Do not violateyour own conscience: Ro.14:22-23 Do not causeanother tostumble: 1 Co.8, 10 Be consistent with otherdays
Other days / activities • Groundhog day, a “Christian tradition”: medieval Catholic holiday: Candlemas • Birthdays • Astronomy vs astrology • Candy canes Purpose matters
Some things are morally right, but religiously wrong • Washing hands, Mk.7:1-8. • Giving gifts, Ac.20:35. (Est.9:19) • Days, Ro.14:1-5 (not religiously: Ga.4). Ac.20:16; 1 Co.16:8 • Eating food, 1 Co.11 • Giving thanks, 1 Th.5:17 Purpose matters