Well, it’s Christmas day for western Christianity.
There are many sites out there talking about one aspect of Christmas or another, and about its pagan roots. (A very recent blog post that does a decent overall summary is by J.M.’s History Corner). However, this blog isn’t about any of that. This is just some fun tidbits taken out of the gospel accounts of Yeshua’s (Jesus’) birth. I haven’t completely studied out all these points, but I mention them as they are good to ponder.
- In the genealogy listed in Matthew 1, the wording is such that it is clear that Joseph is not the father of Yeshua (Jesus): “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus (Yeshua) was born.” Matthew 1:16 (ESV)
- We have no idea how many ‘wise’ men actually visited. It is most likely, though, that it was, at least, a small entourage, as they were carrying some expensive gifts.
- The priests and scribes were very learned in scripture, and knew immediately where the Messiah (Christ) was to be born. But they were only interested in knowledge, and not experience, as shown by the fact that they never went down to Bethlehem after the wise men showed up. Seems to me that such a monumenteous happening should illicit some sort of response. Even King Herod had more belief then the priests as he acted on what he heard!
- The wise men didn’t visit Yeshua (Jesus) as a baby. Nor did they visit him when he was in the manger. He was a child, living in a house, when they visited. (Matthew 2:11)
- Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, were ‘blameless’ according to the Law of God, following all of it! I thought that it was not possible to completely follow the Law!?! (See this post.)
- Though the words used to describe Mary do not have to mean ‘virgin’, her own words make it clear she was. (Luke 1:34)
- Most of Western Christianity holds that Mary had children after Yeshua (Jesus). Orthodoxy holds that those referred to as Yeshua’s brothers and sisters were step siblings or even cousins. The language of the texts is, unfortunately, not absolutely clear one way or the other.
- Was Zechariah only mute? If so, why did people have to make signs to him, asking what he wanted to name John? see Luke 1:62.
- A completely plausible (and in my opinion correct) understanding of the whole ‘manger’ scene is that Mary and Joseph were offered accommodations in the inn keeper’s Sukkah (booth), as the feast of Tabernacles (or feast of booths) was under way.
- Western and Orthodox Christianity celebrate Christmas on different days. Not because of debate as to when it really was, but because the two are following different calendars.
- The angels announcing the birth of Yeshua (Luke 2:8-20) is the closest thing we have in scripture to a birthday party.
I don’t actually ‘do’ Christmas. I do, however, celebrate His birth according to the calendar God gave us, which places it during the feast of Tabernacles.
No matter what, though, there are two very good reasons for celebrating, and Christmas does (or used to) emphasize them.
Get together and get closer as a family. Be nice to one another!
One can’t go wrong with that as a goal.
Shalom! – Yosef