WHAT IS THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS?
People often talk about the "spirit of Christmas" and discovering its "true meaning." Just what is the true meaning of Christmas?
In our secularized culture, non-Christians have reinterpreted the "true meaning of Christmas" to be "good will toward men." By that expression they mean that people should get along with one another, have good feelings toward one another, and be nice to one another. It is this humanistic interpretation of Christmas that is celebrated in such holiday films as It's a Wonderful Life and White Christmas.
Not to appreciate the human longing for love, happiness, and goodness expressed in these films would be dreadful indeed. Human beings, Christians and non-Christians alike, have a tremendous capacity for feeling, and Christmas brings that capacity to open expression with an intensity unmatched the rest of the year. Rather than condemning these expressions of human emotions, Christians ought to acknowledge them and feel free even to enjoy and participate in them.
But Christians should also recognize, and help non-Christians to see as well, that the true meaning of Christmas lies elsewhere. When the angels announcing Christ's birth sang about "good will toward men" [Luke 2:14], they were not singing about people showing good will toward other people, but about God showing good will toward men. The point is that in Christmas God acted in a magnificent way to show goodness and love toward us. By becoming a human being, dying on the cross for our sins, and rising from the dead, Jesus Christ overcame for us sin and the grave. In short, Jesus was born to overcome the very things that left unchecked would destroy the human spirit of love, tenderness, and selflessness celebrated by secularists at Christmas. Because Jesus Christ came to earth in Bethlehem, it's a wonderful life both now and forever for those who believe in Him and through Him experience God's good will toward them. CRI.org) See Sin and Salvation
WHEN WAS JESUS BORN?
“The Gospels tell us that his birth was shortly before Herod the Great died. Herod's death can be fixed with certainty.
Josephus records an eclipse of the moon just before Herod passed on. This occurred on March 12th or 13th in 4 B.C. Josephus also tells us that Herod expired just before Passover. This feast took place on April 11th, in the same year, 4 B.C. From other details supplied by Josephus, we can pinpoint Herod the Great's demise as occurring between March 29th and April 4th in 4 B.C.
It might sound strange to suggest that Jesus Christ was born no later than 4 B.C. since B.C. means 'before Christ.' But our modern calendar which splits time between B.C. and A.D. was not invented until A.D. 525. At that time, Pope John the First asked a monk named Dionysius to prepare a standardized calendar for the western Church. Unfortunately, poor Dionysius missed the real B.C./A.D. division by at least four years!
Now Matthew tells us that Herod killed Bethlehem's babies two years old and under. The earliest Jesus could have been born, therefore, is 6 B.C. Through a variety of other time indicators, we can be relatively confident that the one called Messiah was born in either late 5 or early 4 B.C.” [The Birth of Jesus Christ. Daniel B. Wallace, Th.M., Ph.D.]
“This coming December 25th most parents will be lying to their children about old St. Nick. [See Santa Claus.. Pretender to The Throne]
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, of course, we can't be absolutely certain of the day of Christ's birth. At least, not this side of heaven. But an early winter date seems as reasonable a guess as any. And December 25th has been the frontrunner for eighteen centuries. Without more evidence, there seems no good reason to change the celebration date now.
We can blame the ancient church for a large part of our uncertainty. You see, they did not celebrate Christ's birth. At all. To them, it was insignificant. They were far more concerned with his death . . . and resurrection.
But modern man has turned that around. A baby lying in a manger is harmless, non-threatening. But a man dying on a cross--a man who claims to be God--that man is a threat! He demands our allegiance! We cannot ignore him. We must either accept him or reject him. He leaves us no middle ground.
This Christmas season, take a close look at a nativity scene once again. Remove your rose-colored glasses--smell the foul air, see the cold, shivering animals. They represent the Old Testament sacrificial system. They are emblems of death. But they are mere shadows of the Babe in their midst. He was born to die . . . that all who believe in him might live.” [The Birth of Jesus Christ. Daniel B. Wallace, Th.M., Ph.D.]