Problems with the Traditional Christmas Story!
(Ver 1.3) Almost every Christmas these days I come across another example of how people have adopted a tradition rather than the Bible. It seems that people are more comfortable with their idea of Christmas rather than what God said really happened in the Bible. What am I talking about? Mostly I have a problem with the manger scenes and living nativities that many churches put up this time of the year. If you have ever read any of my blogs you know I am a stickler for the details. I feel if God went to so much trouble to put a story in the Bible for us to read, we ought to have enough respect to figure out what it says and then to teach that. Obviously there are a lot of people who disagree with me on this or they wouldn’t have the wise men visiting baby Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem.
You really don’t have to be a rocket scientist to read and to study the Bible. You just need to pay attention to every word. The wise men were never in the town of Bethlehem and Jesus was there for less than a week. If you have read the Bible you know that the story starts by Joseph and Mary having to travel to Bethlehem in order to pay taxes and participate in the census that the Roman government had imposed on all of their citizens. Sounds a lot like what Congress is trying to do to us now. But I won’t go there. Joseph and Mary traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem because they were of the house of David. If they were not David’s descendants Jesus would not have been born in Bethlehem. It is funny how God knew what was going to happen and He prophesied where Jesus would be born way before hand.
Mic 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Here is another point that I always like to make about the Christmas story. Why was Jesus born in a manager? I think most people think that it was simply because they were so poor that they couldn’t afford anything better. But, that is not what the Bible says either. We can clearly understand that because of Mary’s condition of being almost 9 months pregnant that they were not making as good of time as everyone else that was also having to travel to Bethlehem. When Joseph and Mary finally arrived in Bethlehem we know that Jesus was born in the manger because the inn was already full of people (Luke 2:7). We can easily conclude that Joseph had the money to stay at the inn and also enough in his pocket to pay his taxes. You did know you don’t pay taxes if you don’t have any income or money earned, don’t you? So Jesus was born in a manger because of the slower travel time and the insufficient space at the inn and not the lack of money of Joseph and Mary as many teach. That to me is a very important point to the Christmas story that you should not throw away and ignore.
Next, we find in the story of Christmas, that the angels appeared to some shepherds that were nearby tending their sheep and told them of the great news of the birth of the messiah (Luke 2:8-10). It is certainly significant that shepherds were told this since the Lamb of God was just born in Bethlehem and who better to come to see this Lamb of God, than these nearby shepherds tending their sheep. So we know that the shepherds were at the manger and witnessed the Lamb of God in Bethlehem personally. So where do we get the idea that Jesus was also visited by the wise men at the same time? I honestly do not have a clue where this tradition originated, nor do I care. If you read the account in the Bible you find that the wise men could have been there to see Jesus, up to two years after his birth in Bethlehem. We know that Jesus was circumcised in Jerusalem on the 8th day of his life so we can thus determine that Jesus was in the manger for less than a week. Just long enough for Mary to recover and for Joseph to pay the taxes. They then went to Jerusalem and did what the law instructed them to do for their new born son and offer all the appropriate sacrifices.
What would you assume that Joseph would have done then? If you guessed go home you would probably be correct. So here is the root of the problem, we have two different accounts of the birth of Jesus, the main account is found in Luke, but Matthew also provides us additional information. The problem occurs when people try to combine these two accounts into one story when they are really two separate accounts. In Matthew 2 we discover that the Magi were come from the east and they appear in Jerusalem, not Bethlehem. We also discover that they talk with King Herod and stir up a hornet’s nest of controversies. They are told that the messiah is prophesied to be born in Bethlehem of Judea. I guess this is automatically assumed to be where they travel to, to see Jesus. But that is not what the Bible says.
Mat 2:11 and having come to the house, they found the child with Mary his mother,
You can see in Matthew 2:11 that the wise men show up at a house and not at a manger. Who do you think this house belonged to? You can assume many options, but the one that makes the most sense was it was Joseph’s house in his hometown Nazareth. Here is the other interesting point to be made in this story, the Greek word translated as “child” does not mean baby or new born. When Jesus was a baby in the manger he is called by a different Greek word. You can look it up for yourself. This Greek word actually means a half grown child. So we can see that a lot of time has passed before the Magi make it to Jesus.
All you have to do is read and study and you come up with the right story. If you preach and teach the wise men showed up at the manger then you are either ignorant of the truth or you choose to preach a lie, either way the truth is oppressed for what you think and not for what the Bible actually says. So when we see a manger scene with 3 wise men on camels we are looking at a lie, a fabrication of the truth. How can the world learn to believe what a Christian is saying is the truth if what a lot of what they say is a lie. Is it important to be truthful all the time? I believe that it is. There are really so many other things we could look at in this story. For example, no where does it say that there were 3 wise men. Where did we get that in the story? I assume it is because they brought 3 types of gifts and everyone assumes that every wise man had a different gift. When we make such assumptions we again see how man can so easily get it wrong. There could have been 100 wise men or 2 wise men both would fit in the Bible text that we read in Matthew. My point is for us to be as precise to tell what the Bible actually says and for us to lose our traditions and what we thought was accurate. When we start to teach the real truth the world will have a much better opportunity to see it and to accept it.
I hope that you have a great Christmas Day.
Posted on December 24, 2009, in Bible Study, Christmas, Understanding and tagged Bible, Christianity, Christmas, Church, God, Jesus, Religion, Truth, understanding. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.