The Day Jesus Was Born
Someone has said,"This coming December 25th most parents will be lying to their childrenabout old St. Nick. Some of us will be celebrating the birth of our Savior. Butwas he really born on this day? Was Jesus really born on December 25th?Virtually every month on the calendar has been proposed by biblical scholars.So why do we celebrate his birth in December?
The tradition forDecember 25th is actually quite ancient. Hippolytus, in the second centuryA.D., argued that this was Christ's birthday. Meanwhile, in the Eastern Church,January 6th was the date followed. But in the fourth century, John Chrysostomargued that December 25th was the correct date and from that day till now, theChurch in the East, as well as the West, has observed the 25th of December asthe official date of Christ's birth.
In modern times,the traditional date has been challenged. Modern scholars point out that whenJesus was born, shepherds were watching their sheep in the hills aroundBethlehem. Luke tells us that an angel appeared to "some shepherdsstaying out in the fields [who were] keeping watch over their flock by night"(2:8).
Some scholars feelthat the sheep were usually brought under cover from November to March; aswell, they were not normally in the field at night. But there is no hardevidence for this. In fact, early Jewish sources suggest that the sheep aroundBethlehem were outside year-round. So you can see, December 25th fits bothtradition and the biblical narrative well. There is no sound objection to it.
Now admittedly,the sheep around Bethlehem were the exception, not the rule. But these were noordinary sheep. They were sacrificial lambs. In the early springthey would be slaughtered at the Passover.
And God firstrevealed the Messiah's birth to these shepherds--shepherds who protectedharmless lambs which would soon die on behalf of sinful men. When they saw thebaby, could they have known? Might they have whispered in their hearts whatJohn the Baptist later thundered, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takesaway the sin of the world!"
The True Glory of Christmas is how perfectly God entered our world that firstChristmas. There are six perfections we will see:
Thus the worldthat cradled Christ was the world that Christianity entered - and
by God's definition was the Fullness of Time.
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