Summary: We are going to look at a few of the traditions that surround the Christmas season.
OPENING JOKE: “RATS” A minister once enlisted four children to help him preach his Christmas sermon on “The Star.” He gave each child one of the four letters to hold up so he could make a point on each letter of the word “Star.” When the children stepped forward and turned around, they were in reverse order. The congregation nearly fell out of their pews as they read: “RATS.”
INTRODUCTION: Tonight we are going to look at a few of the traditions that surround the Christmas season.
We are going to attempt to determine which are Biblical and which are traditional.
Most of them are of little consequence in the grand scheme of life, but as you will see, when we come to the final portion where I expound upon our two opening texts, what is true about Christmas is starting to be left out and being replaced with new man-made traditions.
Tradition #1 The Year of Jesus Birth
Was Jesus born on December 25th, 0000? No.
Throughout history, calendars have been dated according to important historical events. Our calendar is dated in relation to the birth of Jesus. “B.C.” = ‘Before Christ’. “A.D.” = “Anno Domini’ = ‘in the year of our Lord’.
How did they come up with this year? Is this really 2005 years after the birth of Jesus?
Actually our calendar is based on the birth of Jesus, but it is off by a few years. If you look in your Bible, the birth of Jesus is dated at 4 or 5 B.C.
How do we know this? We look to history. Jesus was born when Herod was King. He reigned for 37 years. Josephus (a Jewish historian) says that there was a lunar eclipse shortly before Herod’s death. History tells us that Herod died 7 days before the eclipse. Scientists have dated the elipse in March of 4 B.C.
Mary & Joseph’s flight into Egypt occurred BEFORE the death of Herod. The Bible tells us that Herod died while they were in Egypt, thus Jesus was born Sometime before 4 B.C., meaning our calendars are at least 4 years off!
Tradition #2 The Date of Jesus Birth
Was Jesus born on December 25th? We don’t know, but most unanimously agree that He was not.
In 180 A.D., Clement of Alexandria wrote that the birth of Jesus was thought to be on April 21 … or April 22 … or May 20 … depending on who you asked. Most believed that it was around the Passover time. This is when the shepherds would be out in their fields … not in the winter.
The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrated Christmas on January 6th for centuries. Since the FIRST Adam was “born” on the 6th day of creation … and Jesus is the SECOND Adam … they celebrated the birth of Jesus on January 6th. The Armenian Church still celebrates Christmas on January 6th.
In the 336 AD, the Western Church set the date as December 25th. WHY? There was a pagan holiday on that date, and so to diminish and obscure the importance of the pagan holiday, they decided to celebrate the birth of Jesus on that date.
NOTE: If God would have wanted us to know the exact date … if it was that important … He would have told us. The IMPORTANT thing is … to celebrate the birth of Jesus … no matter what date you choose.