Tuesday, December 24, 2019

When Was Jesus Really Born?

I'm a Christian. I've been a Christian all my life. I pretty much believe everything I read in the bible... especially the New Testament. Someone once told me that Christ wasn't really born on December 25, that we celebrate his birth on that day because of tradition. You know what? He was right!

Of course, it really doesn't make any difference in my love for Jesus. But it is nice to be able to separate the facts from the traditions. The fact is... the exact time of Christ's birth was never recorded in the bible. Only that He was born in a manger in Bethlehem.

But was it in December? I kind of doubt it. December's in Bethlehem are cold. Joseph and were going to Bethlehem to pay their taxes when the 'Son of God' was born. Roman leaders were very good administrators. I doubt that they'd pick one of the coldest months of the year for people to pay their taxes. After all, people had to walk to get to the tax collectors. I'm sure the administrators wanted to make it as easy as they could to collect taxes.

There's another thing that makes me think Jesus wasn't born in December. The bible says that angels appeared to shepherds watching over their flocks on the night Jesus was born. Shepherds would never have had their flocks out at night in the dead of winter.

So, why do we celebrate December 25 as the Christ's birthday? To start with, the early church didn't celebrate Christ's birthday at all. It wasn't until 336 A.D. that Christmas came about. That was the date the Roman emperor Constantine decided to convert a pagan holiday into the 'Christian' holiday called, Christmas. Even that date is in question with many scholars believing that the Roman holiday wasn't officially called 'Christmas' until the early 500s.

What isn't questionable though is that December 25th had long been celebrated as the festival that marked the winter solstice, the return of the sun, and honored Saturn, the god of sowing.

So, when was Christ born? Most likely in the fall. Luke, in the New Testament says that the Romans required a census and taxation to take place after the fall harvest, during the Autumn. Which makes a lot of sense as travel would be much more difficult later in the year.

Does it really make any difference when Jesus was born? Not to me. This is one of those things that the bible doesn't mention. We can deduce the general time though by looking at the things that were happening around him. It's easier to say why it wasn't December 25th, than to narrow down an exact month. For me... sometime in the Autumn is close enough. I'm fine going along with the crowd in using December 25th to celebrate his birth. It may not the correct day, but it will do until He returns again and sets us straight.

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