Should We Celebrate Christmas? (Part 2)

Those who don’t celebrate Christmas claim that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25. They say that we don’t really know the exact date. They claim the date was only fixed in the fourth century.

But Dr. Daniel Wallace in his book, The Birth of Jesus Christ: The Day Jesus Was Born, disagrees. “Why do we celebrate his birth in December? The tradition for December 25th is actually quite ancient. Hippolytus, in the second century A.D., argued that this was Christ’s birthday. …in the fourth century, John Chrysostom argued that December 25th was the correct date and from that day till now, the Church in the East, as well as the West, has observed the 25th of December as the official date of Christ's birth.”

Some point to Luke 2:8, where it says that on the night of the birth of Christ, “there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” (NIV) They claim that since it was winter, the shepherds were not in the field that night. Some modern scholars say the shepherds usually brought under cover their flocks from November to March. So, they argue, Jesus wasn’t born on December. “But there is no hard evidence for this,” counters Dr. Wallace. “In fact, early Jewish sources suggest that the sheep around Bethlehem were outside year-round. There is no sound objection to it.”

Thus, Dr. Wallace concludes, “So you can see, December 25th fits both tradition and the biblical narrative well. There is no sound objection to it.”

But don’t allow the debate over the date distract us from the real reason for the season. It is very significant that the angels chose to reveal to the shepherds the birth of the Good Shepherd. At that time people look down on shepherds. “These were most unlikely recipient of such a revelation, for shepherds were despised as a class because they were unable to observe the customary laws of purification. They were considered unclean. They had not been schooled in the law and therefore were considered ignorant.” (J. Dwight Pentecost, Th. D., The Words And Works of Jesus Christ) They were even banned from testifying in court. But God chose them to bear witness for Him.

So, as we celebrate Christmas, let us bear in mind: “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)

Like the shepherds, the Lord can and will use you and me.


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