What Day Was He Born?
The Day Jesus Was Born
Someone has said, "This coming December 25th most parents will be lying to their children about old St. Nick. Some of us will be celebrating the birth of our Savior. But was 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 for December 25th is actually quite ancient. Hippolytus, in the second century A.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 Chrysostom argued that December 25th was the correct date and from that day till now, the Church in the East, as well as the West, has observed the 25th of December as the official date of Christ's birth.
In modern times, the traditional date has been challenged. Modern scholars point out that when Jesus was born, shepherds were watching their sheep in the hills around Bethlehem. Luke tells us that an angel appeared to "some shepherds staying out in the fields [who were] keeping watch over their flock by night" (2:8).
Some scholars feel that the sheep were usually brought under cover from November to March; as well, they were not normally in the field at night. But there is no hard evidence for this. In fact, early Jewish sources suggest that the sheep around Bethlehem were outside year-round. So you can see, December 25th fits both tradition 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 no ordinary sheep. They were sacrificial lambs. In the early spring they would be slaughtered at the Passover.
And God first revealed the Messiah's birth to these shepherds--shepherds who protected harmless lambs which would soon die on behalf of sinful men. When they saw the baby, could they have known? Might they have whispered in their hearts what John the Baptist later thundered, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"
The True Glory of Christmas is how perfectly God entered our world that first Christmas. There are six perfections we will see:
- His TIMING was Perfect because it was in the Fullness of Time.
- His NAMES were Perfect because they reveal we deeply need what only God gives.
- His PLAN was Perfect because it was God with us.
- His PROMISES were Perfect because they were the culmination of ALL PROPHESY.
- His RECEPTION was Perfect because He was found by all who were looking for Him.
- His TRADITIONS were Perfect because all the season points to Him.
Thus the world that cradled Christ was the world that Christianity entered - and
by God's definition was the Fullness of Time.
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