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  • This is a production of

  • World Video Bible School. To God be the glory.

  • For many people the Christmas season

  • is their most favorite time of the year. They love the music and the traveling and

  • being with relatives.

  • They love the aromas and the decorations and the singing and the Christmas dinner.

  • Kids love being out-of-school and opening presents, and it's a time filled

  • with emotion and for many people it's like the song says,

  • "The most wonderful time of the year." But, for other people

  • it's a difficult time of the year. It's a time that they feel particularly lonely.

  • You know, for those who have lost loved ones it's a really hard time,

  • because it's a time they're used to being together and they remember Christmases

  • from years gone by,

  • and it makes it particularly hard for them. But for New Testament Christians it

  • can be a very confusing time,

  • because they see signs that say, "Jesus is the reason for the season,"

  • but they know they can't find that in their Bibles. And they see plays talking

  • about the birth of Christ and they're not sure what's appropriate and what's not,

  • and they want to enjoy the holiday but they don't want to do anything that's not right.

  • And so it can be very disconcerting. Today we're going to deal with some of

  • these issues.

  • I want to talk about some misconceptions

  • about Christmas. We're going to discuss three of them.

  • First, misconceptions about the birth of Christ.

  • Second, misconceptions about the meaning of Christmas.

  • And then third misconceptions about the celebration of Christmas.

  • Alright, first let's talk about some misconceptions

  • about the birth up Jesus. Now there are actually a lot of these. Some of these

  • you're probably familiar with and perhaps some of these you're not.

  • But the story of Jesus' birth is usually told something like this:

  • It's about two thousand years ago on the evening of December 25th,

  • and Mary rides into Bethlehem on a donkey, urgently needing to deliver her baby.

  • But although it's an emergency all the innkeepers turn them away,

  • and so they deliver the baby Jesus in a stable.

  • Then the angel sing to the shepherds, and afterwards

  • three kings arrive on three camels and they worship the quiet peaceful

  • newborn baby. You know, the only problem with this story is

  • it's almost entirely wrong. You see the story of the birth of Jesus has been

  • told and retold so many times in plays and poetry and

  • books and movies that people have a very distorted view

  • of the true events. Of course, the only

  • accurate account of what happened is found in the Bible.

  • And so we want to examine some of the misconceptions

  • and see what the Bible actually has to say. And some of these

  • details are important, others are not so important,

  • but the point that I want us to get is that

  • all too often what people believe

  • is based not on what the Bible actually says

  • but on what they have always been told.

  • And so, to clarify what the Bible actually says,

  • what we need to do is look at the Bible. If you have a Bible and you'd like to follow along

  • go to Luke chapter 2. Alright here is the first misconception

  • about the birth of Jesus. Number one: the story says that

  • Mary road into Bethlehem on a donkey.

  • Well here's what the Bible actually says, Luke chapter 2

  • and verse 3. Let's read it. "So all went to be registered,

  • everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee,

  • out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea to the city of David which is called Bethlehem,

  • because he was of the house and lineage of David

  • to be registered with Mary his betrothed wife

  • who was with child." Now that's all it says.

  • I didn't read anything about a donkey. Now it's possible that she rode on a donkey,

  • but the Bible doesn't say that. It could have been a camel.

  • There are various possibilities of

  • what it could be but it's interesting what the Bible actually says

  • and what people think the Bible says. And sometimes,

  • if people would take the time to look, they'd be quite surprised.

  • Number two. Let's look at another.

  • Was Jesus born the same night that Mary arrived in Bethlehem?

  • Again, the Bible doesn't say that. This is part of the story that's traditionally told,

  • but in reality they might have arrived weeks earlier.

  • The Bible simply says, in Luke chapter 2 and verse 6, "So it was

  • that while they were there, the days were completed

  • for her to be delivered." That's all the Bible says,

  • which doesn't mesh well with the traditional story.

  • Here's the third one, number three. Is it really the case that a hotel

  • keeper, an innkeeper, told Mary and Joseph that there was no room for them

  • in the inn? Well the truth is the Bible doesn't even

  • mention an innkeeper. I know that almost all denominational Christmas plays

  • include one, but it's not in the Bible. In fact,

  • it's more likely that Mary and Joseph would have stayed with relatives, not in

  • some sort of hotel

  • or Bible times motel. Now, you might be thinking

  • well doesn't Luke chapter 2 and verse 7 say that there was no room for them

  • in the inn? Yes it does and we're going to say some more about that in a minute

  • in the next point. Number four, was Jesus born

  • in a stable? Friends, would you be surprised to learn

  • the Bible does not say that? You might say, "Well then where do people get that

  • idea?"

  • Here's what the Bible actually says and this is the only place in the Bible that

  • addresses this subject.

  • Luke chapter 2 and verse 7: "And she brought forth her firstborn Son,

  • and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him

  • in a manger because there was no room for them

  • in the inn." The Bible doesn't mention

  • a stable. It simply says that they laid him in a manger

  • because there was no room for them in the inn.

  • Now, the word in the original language that's translated as

  • inn is the word kat-al-oo-mah. The word means

  • a guest chamber. It can mean a a lodging place

  • or an inn. Many translators have chosen to translate

  • as inn and so we have a certain picture that is painted

  • in our minds. But this same Greek word appears

  • two other times in the Bible, once in Mark 14:14

  • and once in Luke 22 and verse 11.

  • But in both those times it is translated as

  • guest room and according to Bible archaeology experts

  • Jesus was probably born in the house of relatives

  • but probably somewhere outside the normal living quarters outside the house

  • in guest chambers. The Bible in basic

  • English says there was no room for them in the house.

  • Young's Literal Translation says there was not

  • "for them a place in the guest chamber."

  • And so what tradition has told us simply does not match what the Bible actually says.

  • Well, here's number five and again this is not a big deal but it goes to show

  • how people perpetuate myths about the Bible.

  • The song "Away in a Manger". The song says, "The Baby awakes

  • but little Lord Jesus no crying

  • He makes." Now I don't know what to say about that except

  • the Bible does not say it. It's a pretty song but

  • the baby might have been screaming at the top of his lungs. We simply don't

  • know. It's just something that we've inserted into the story.

  • Here's number six: Did three kings

  • riding camels actually come to

  • the birthplace of Jesus? Well, in actuality

  • the Bible doesn't say that any kings or camels

  • came to visit the baby Jesus at the time of His birth.

  • It does say that wise man came, but first it doesn't say

  • that there were three of them (we don't know how many). And secondly, the word for

  • wise men in the original languages is plural, so

  • we know that there were at least two but that's all that we know.

  • There's even tradition that gives the names of the wise men

  • but that's totally without biblical evidence. Well here we are

  • number seven: was Jesus born

  • on December 25th or was He born in the month of December at all?

  • You know, although it's not impossible it's is highly unlikely.

  • First the Bible doesn't tell us when Jesus was born.

  • Luke chapter 2 in verse 11 says, "For unto you is born this day in the city of

  • David a Savior,

  • which is Christ the Lord." But the Bible doesn't give a specific date.

  • In fact the biblical evidence seems to point to a time

  • other than December or January. The fact that the shepherds were in the field

  • would indicate that

  • it was probably not December. You know, December is

  • is cold in Judea. It's rainy and it would have been unlikely that the shepherds

  • would have been in the fields.

  • Also Jesus' parents were going to Bethlehem for the Roman census and

  • this is not the time of the year where they would normally take a census

  • because it was difficult to travel

  • the winter weather would cause icy roads and difficult conditions and

  • and it wasn't practical, and it would have been self-defeating.

  • So the question is: When was Jesus born?

  • Can we speculate about the time?

  • I think we have a clue in Luke chapter 1. Jesus was

  • 6 months younger than His cousin John the Baptist

  • and so if we can determine when John was born then,

  • we can get an idea about the birth of Jesus.

  • Luke chapter 1 verse 5 says, "There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea,

  • a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia:

  • and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was

  • Elizabeth." Now, make note of that. Zachariah

  • is in the 8th course, the course of Abia

  • and so because the feast day he would serve on the 9th

  • week. So if you start with the first month

  • the Hebrew month of Nissan, which corresponds to our month of March almost exactly,

  • then he would serve right about May, maybe early May,

  • and he would serve for one week. Now verse 23:

  • "And it came to pass", and watch this carefully, "that, as soon as the days of

  • his ministration were accomplished,

  • he departed to his own house. And after those days his wife Elisabeth

  • conceived..." Now follow this, the course of the priest begins in the month March

  • the 8th course which would be the 9th week puts Zacharias serving

  • in May. As soon as he leaves from his serving, he goes home

  • and his wife conceives and she's carrying John the Baptist.

  • Jesus was conceived six months later from that,

  • which would put his conception in about November.

  • And then, Mary his mother carries the Christ child for

  • nine months. Now that would put his birth sometime around the month

  • of August and would explain, by the way,

  • why the shepherds were out in the field caring for

  • their sheep. It was still warm weather. In fact, I read in one source that

  • it said a probable time for travel, the more commonly accepted time for travel,

  • would be late September, the time of the

  • annual Feast of Tabernacles. And so the indicators would say that

  • it's more likely that Jesus was born in

  • September or maybe August not December

  • or January. And so, there's a lot of misconceptions surrounding

  • the birth of Jesus and tradition is very different from

  • what the Bible actually says. Alright secondly,

  • I want to discuss some misconceptions about the meaning

  • of Christmas. Of course, one of the greatest misconceptions about Christmas

  • is that it is a holy day. And for some people

  • it's one of two days in the year when they will actually set foot in a church building.

  • But the Bible doesn't attach any religious significance whatsoever to Christmas.

  • I saw a sign on a denominational church building near my house that said

  • "Joseph and Mary received the first Christmas present."

  • But you know, the fact is, Joseph and Mary had never heard of Christmas.

  • The word Christmas doesn't appear anywhere in the Bible.

  • and the concept did not arise until a long time after the Bible had been completed.

  • If you look back at history, what you find is that before Jesus came to this Earth,

  • there were people who were practicing mid-winter festivals.

  • And the Mesopotamians, for example, had a 12-day celebration

  • in which they gave gifts to one another and they had feasting and

  • friends would get together, and it had a connection to their pagan gods.

  • And these feasts and celebrations would honor these

  • pagan gods. Compton's Encyclopedia goes on to say that

  • other nationalities also did this. The Romans did it, the

  • Egyptians did it, the Chinese did it. And this was before the birth of Christ.

  • So what happens then is in 325 AD,

  • about the time of the Emperor Constantine, the groups that would

  • eventually become the Eastern Orthodox Church and

  • the Roman Catholic Church, they put their heads together

  • and they said there are all these pagan festivals going on at this time of the year

  • and we need something to compete with it so that our people aren't drawn into these

  • festivals. And so we need to make an alternative

  • for Christians. And so they came up with Christmas.

  • It had nothing to do with the actual birthday

  • of Jesus. It had to do with creating a holiday

  • to give another outlet instead of these pagan festivities.

  • It was not a holy day and it did not come from God.

  • Now, a second misconception about the meaning of Christmas

  • is that it's a time when Jesus Christ is re-sacrificed

  • in the observance the Lord's Supper. Now the word Christmas

  • actually comes from two words Christ and mass.

  • And, of course, the term refers to the gathering or the mass

  • of the Catholic church. It is the Christ mass, it is a special mass

  • whereby Jesus Christ is re-sacrificed

  • in the observance of the Lord's Supper. Now this particular mass

  • is performed in commemoration

  • of the birth of Christ, but the Bible

  • never tells us that Christ is re-sacrificed.

  • In fact, Hebrews 9:28 says He died once

  • He was sacrificed only once.

  • There is no more sacrifice for sins Hebrews 10:26.

  • And in the Bible, we are told to celebrate, not the birth of Jesus,

  • but rather the death of Jesus. And we're to do this

  • every first day of the week, Acts 20 and verse 7,

  • and we do it by the partaking at the Lord's Supper.

  • Well, thirdly we want to discuss some misconceptions about the celebration