We may never know the exact moment of Christ's birth, but perhaps that date is comparatively unimportant next to living the kind of lifestyle he taught. Today, Christmas is a commercial event. The glitz and glamour of the holiday season rolls in to entice one and all to shop for bargains. Neither merchant, nor shopper ever considers the birth of Christ as the aim of the holiday when they fill their carts with poor quality gifts to give away on Christmas day.
While the birth of Christ may be insignificant, there are signs that the legitimate date of his birth likely occurred months before the date we place upon his birth. Christmas is supposed to be a time of reflection and a demonstration of providing for those who have less. We may put a few bills into the kettle campaign at the shopping center, we quickly forget that this time of year means much more than just gifts under the Christmas tree.
The Bible mentions Caesar's census when all able bodied families had to return to their birthplace to be counted. According to Josephus, such a census took place under governor Quirinius somewhere around 6 BC. According to Luke 2:2, Joseph and Mary headed to Bethlehem for the census when Quirinius was governor of Syria that included Judea as a subdivision. If we hold Josephus as true, then there could have been two censuses, one to succeed 6 BC.
It's believed that Jesus was born in a manger since there was "no room at the inn". While Christ was born in a manger, the Bible says nothing at all about where this was, not likely in a stable. They could have stayed at the house of family members. The Greek word kataluma can be interpreted to mean a visitor chamber, a lodging area or an inn.
Common belief has it that three wise men came bearing gifts to Christ but the Bible is mute on the exact number of wise men who visited. There would have been at least 2 and likely more than 3. The picture we hold in our minds that the wise men saw Christ in the manger is likely untrue for it would have taken them some time to travel the distance to get to Christ. Matthew 2:16 describes Christ as a child, rather than a baby. King Herod had every male child 2 years and under killed, indicating that Christ was already walking, if not talking.
Christmas is associated with December 25, but it's unlikely that Christ was born on this day. The Bible refers to "shepherds abiding in the fields" an event unlikely as herds were brought inside and the fields were unproductive during the cold season. A pregnant Mary would have had difficulty taking a trip during the winter. It's likely then that Christ's birth took place late September on or around the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, an event that celebrates "the Word made flesh" according to John 1:14. What may be of interest is that December 25 may be the date of the conception of Christ, nine months before. Thus we may be commemorating the conception, rather than his actual birthday.
December 25th has a basis in heathen ritual. This day was a day of celebrations commemorating the return of the sun from its lowest point of the year. Since the birth of Christ wasn't know, the Catholic church decided to put a Christian stamp on this holiday The pagan rituals of adorning trees with lights became enmeshed with Christian rituals and continues to be so today.
As we can see, a lot of what we have come to acknowledge as fact is shrouded in obscurity, connected with pagan rituals and unproven theories. While it may not be important to know when Christ was born, what is important is to follow his teachings. The instructions are not in error, but a majority of Christians today are enamored by materialism, rather than spiritual teaching. This is clearly evident when Christmas arrives each year.
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