The only thing important on Christmas is to be less busy and ponder on the real story behind Christmas. I always do that. It’s the only worthwhile thing to do this vacation. Next to this is to eat with family and friends—and eat healthily. While eating, I want you to take a look at these strange details about Christ’s birth.
1. Wrong Info on Wise Men and Shepherds
You always see the wise men and the shepherds together in manger scenes displayed in stores, homes or even churches today. Very few people know that in the original story they weren’t. It was impossible for them to be together in the manger scene. The shepherds came when Jesus was a baby in a manger, while the wise men came when he was a boy of about 2 years.
Thus, you see them in separate accounts. The wise-men story is in Matthew and the shepherds are in Luke. Matthew didn’t mention about the shepherds because they weren’t there anymore when the wise men from the east came. Luke didn’t mention about the wise men because they were not to come until after about 2 years.
Besides, the bible says the baby Jesus was born in a “manger” but the boy Jesus the wise men found lived in a “house” [Matthew 2.11]. Manger and house cannot be the same thing.
Luke further explains it. Eight days after Jesus was born, he was presented to the temple to be consecrated, being the first son of Joseph. And then after, the purification period for Mary which was 33 days [Leviticus 12]. Right after that, they went to Nazareth in Galilee [Luke 2.39]. It’s clear that Jesus didn’t remain in Bethlehem to grow up because just a month or so after birth, he and his family settled in Nazareth.
And it would be odd to be “presenting” the baby in the temple when Herod and his army was out looking for it. You can estimate by this that the time Herod issued the order was some time after this purification period, probably about 2 years after.
So, when Herod went on a rampage ordering every kid 2 years and below in Bethlehem to be killed, Jesus was no longer there. He was safely in Nazareth. And one night during this time, an angel told them to leave for Egypt to keep the child completely safe from Herod. Though Nazareth was a safe distance away from Bethlehem, you never know what a mad Herod could do.
2. Wise Men from the East VS Bible Scholars
The term wise men actually meant astrologers and magicians in the east. Daniel the prophet was among the “wise men” in Babylon trained in magic and the occult, though he never practiced them. He was even re-named after Bel, the Babylonian god. So these wise men “saw his star in the east” and followed it—as if doing an astrology activity. Just seeing the star, they knew that a king was born and that the star would lead them to this king. So they accurately pinpointed where the child Jesus lived.
In contrast, Herod and his bible scholars and experts (by the way, they all belonged to God’s “chosen people” at the time) didn’t know where the child was exactly. They searched the Scriptures and thought the child was still in Bethlehem [Matthew 2.4-5]. So they killed innocent kids there. It’s just odd that astrologers studying the star accurately found Jesus while religious bible scholars from God’s own chosen people didn’t. So, don’t be religious.
3. Herod Couldn’t See the “Star” in the Sky
Herod badly wanted the baby dead, right? And the wise men said they came to worship the child. So, it would be an easy thing for him to kill Jesus—just go with the wise men and kill the baby when they got there. But he didn’t. Why? Well, it’s not stated in the bible, but I think Herod didn’t see the star when he looked at the clear sky. There where lots of stars in the night skies but no special “star” that would set it apart as the Christ’s star. They all looked the same to him.
And yet, the wise men insisted: “But it’s right there! Don’t you see it? It’s so unique and so easy to spot. It’s the only star in the sky that is moving!” Herod kept looking, to no avail. He couldn’t see any special star. He probably thought the wise men were nuts, so he rather not go with them. It was unimaginable if all Jerusalem would hear that Herod went out with some jerks star-hunting or practicing astrology!
So he told the wise men, “Look for the kid. And when you find him, tell me so I can also worship him.”
4. All Jerusalem was Unhappy about Jesus’ Birth
We celebrate Christmas with much fanfare today that you’d think the original Christmas was also a happy event. Wrong. When Herod and all Jerusalem heard about the King of the Jews being born, they were “disturbed” [Matthew 2.3]. They weren’t happy at all. They kept waiting for the Messiah to come, and when he did they were upset. Herod and the spiritual leaders wanted to kill him and they finally did in the end.
5. Jesus was poor.
Christmas today is an expensive occasion. Everybody thinks they need a lot of money to celebrate it well. They can’t imagine Christmas without their 13th month pay and bonuses. But it was different during the original Christmas. Joseph and Mary offered a pair of doves for the baby’s consecration rite at the temple, which hinted on their economic status. Only poor people offered doves or pigeons. That’s beside being born in Bethlehem and in a manger, which is really a dirty and miserable place to be born in.
Today, Christmas is clearly for the moneyed.
But Wait…There’s More!
But don’t let it be that way. You can always celebrate true Christmas, which is the birth of Jesus Christ as told in the bible. Celebrate it with the real reason for Christ’s coming on earth, and how he chose to be born and die in this world.
Actually, we need not celebrate Christmas or his birth. There’s nothing in the bible that says we must. So, no need to buy Christmas decors, trees, lanterns and lights, which are all so costly (but for what?). Some people actually think it’s mortal sin not to have them displayed at home at Christmas. And no need to buy new clothes or prepare costly food and celebrations. You may do so, but it’s okay if you don’t or can’t.
What the bible tells us is to remember and proclaim his death until he comes back. Simply put, we must repent from sins, receive Jesus into our hearts as Savior and let him rule and reign in us.
But since we’re often caught in the middle of all these festivities, at least we do it for the right reasons. And to appreciate these right reasons, we need to be less busy at Christmas so we can have more time studying about Jesus in the bible and knowing him personally.