by Richard Mansel, assistant editor
Jesus, the Son of God, is the most prominent name on earth. Nearly two thousand years since his ascension to heaven, his name fills libraries, newsstands and frames the political climate of our day. He is more relevant than any person alive. Moreover, the Bible remains the best-selling book ever written and Jesus is its centerpiece.
These factors coupled with the clarity of Scripture make it especially baffling that the world produces countless numbers of Christmas pageants, plays, productions, movies, specials, and nativity scenes and almost all of them are factually inaccurate. In the Middle Ages when Bibles were kept from the common person, such ignorance was more tenable. Now, it is inexcusable when Bibles reside in homes worldwide and the availability of information available to Bible students is at unparalleled levels.
Briefly, we shall examine some of these inaccuracies.
First, there were three wise men. We have no idea how many there were (Matthew 2:1). They brought three gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh but that, in no way, means there were three men (Matthew 2:11).
Second, the wise men came to the manger. Amazingly, millions refuse to see that the wise men came to see the child, Jesus, in a house, long after the scene in the manger (Matthew 2:11).
Third, the star was above the manger. The star was actually above the house of the young child Jesus (Matthew 2:9).
Fourth, Jesus was born on December 25th. The Catholic Encyclopedia admits, “Inexplicable though it seems, the date of Christ’s birth is not known.”/1 Christmas actually started hundreds of years after the New Testament days, by the authority of fallible men.
“Dating December 25 as the birthday of Jesus, is known to have gained popularity only by the mid-fourth century in order that Christians could have an alternative to a popular pagan festival at this time of year. December 25 was the winter solstice according to the old Julian calendar, and it was on that day that Mithraism, a chief rival to Christianity, celebrated the birth of the god, Mithra.”/3 The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that this date coordinated the holiday with the timing of the pagan solar feast. /4
We do not know the date of the birth of Jesus. God did not choose to tell us. Research done appears to indicate that September might be a better choice for his birth. However, this is all speculation that amounts to nothing. God did not establish a religious holiday once a year to honor Christ’s birth. Nevertheless, it is a glorious day of gift giving, love, family, and food. As a family holiday, it is unmatched.
What matters is that Jesus, the Savior of the world, was born, took God’s message to men and died on the cross as our sacrifice for sins (Romans 5:6-11). We worship him on the first day of every week and honor him daily by bringing glory to him (Ephesians 3:20,21).
Does it matter that the birth of the greatest human being who ever lived is properly represented? Obviously, it is.
Years ago, a journalist sent a questionnaire for an interview with this author that would run in their newspaper. When the journalist received the document from my own hands, wrote the piece and placed it before the public, almost all of the facts were wrong and a retraction followed. Anyone who has their biography mishandled knows the irritation. Therefore, we wonder how Jesus feels about men mangling his biography when it is so plainly printed in Matthew and Luke.
2/ New Catholic Encyclopedia, 3:656. http://tinyurl.com/ynpgee