Summary: Describes situation before Christ and after Christ
BEFORE THERE WAS A CHRISTMAS
Christmas, as we know it, is a rather modern innovation. Christ’s birthday was not celebrated until more than 300 years had gone by, years in which accurate birth records (if there were any) had been lost. The early Church remembered and celebrated Christ’s resurrection from the dead, which was more important. But the church was slow in adding Christmas to its list of dates worthy of recognition.
There are several records with dates that give us almost the exact year of Christ’s birth. But the month? the day? Winter was wet and chilly in Judea. It is unlikely that shepherds would have spent December night in an open field, subject to rain and wind. Christ’s birth was more likely during the spring lambing season, when nights would have been balmy and shepherds would have needed to be awake, tending the ewes.
So, why have we celebrated Christ’s birthday on December 25? A pagan festival, Natalis Invicti, was a boisterous Roman affair celebrated on December 25, when the sun was in its winter solstice.
[Solstice - Either of the times of the year when the sun is farthest from the celestial equator, either north or south. In the northern hemisphere the summer solstice occurs about June 22, and the winter solstice about December 22. Webster’s Dictionary]
Worshippers of the Roman sun god enthusiastically pulled their Christian friends into the partying. By A. D. 386, church leaders set up the celebration of “Christ Mass” (“Christ’s Coming”), so that Christians could join the festival activities without bending to paganism.
After the Roman Empire dissolved, Christians continued the December 25 birthday custom. By that time, December 25 seemed more fitting than any other date. “The Bible Almanac” Packer, Tenney, White
The Trinity of Christian Holidays: History of the Christian Church
(1) God the Father sent His Son (Christmas),
(2) who died for us and rose again (Easter),
(3) and the Holy Ghost, who renews and sanctifies us (Pentecost).
Today we want to take a look at Christmas.
I. BEFORE THERE WAS A CHRISTMAS
A. In The Secular Sense (Bear with me in my folly.)
1. There was no buying or giving of gifts.
2. There were no Christmas trees.
3. There were no candles nor lights (especially electrical).
4. There was no baby Jesus.
B. In The Spiritual Sense - Under The Law
1. Sacrifices were made by priests to atone for sin.
Hebrews 9:6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.
2. There was a veil of separation.
Exodus 26:33 “And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring
in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto
you between the holy place and the most holy.”
Hebrews 9:7 “But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not
without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:”
Hebrews 10:3 “But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”
3. Sanctified by the blood of animals.
Hebrews 9:13 “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:”
4. The temple was at Jerusalem.
II. THE NIGHT OF THE FIRST CHRISTMAS (Christ’s Coming)
A. In The City
1. Multitudes gathered to be counted (census) and taxed.
Luke 2:1 “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2:2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 2:3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.”
2. The inns were full.
Luke 2:7b “because there was no room for them in the inn.”
3. There was a hustle and bustle (flurry, buzz, hum).
a. Many were disgusted with Roman rulership ordering them around.
b. Several were arguing the real purpose behind the decree.
c. Perhaps some discussed their anticipation of being delivered from this
nonsense of the Romans by the coming of the Messiah.
d. Some men were drinking themselves into a drunken stupor.
e. Women, who were tired and worn out from all the travel and activity,
were screaming at their children.
f. Thieves and other criminals were picking out targets to rob during this time
B. In The Stable (Probably not wooden, but hewn out of a rock.)
1. A Virgin reaches her full term.
Matthew 1:18 “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”