What about Christmas?

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

On the 25th of December the religious world will celebrate a holiday (i.e. a holyday) which they have called "Christmas." This celebration is supposed to commemorate the birth of Jesus. It should be kept in mind that the gospel accounts reveal only a few incidents in connection with the early life of Jesus. The following chronology of events in Jesus' early life should be helpful:

Birth of Jesus.. Mt. 1: 2 5, Lk. 2: 1-7

Visit of Shepherds (same night).. Lk. 2:8-20.

Jesus' Circumcision (eight days old) ... Lk. 2:21.

Jesus' Presentation (at least 40 days old)

Also read Lev. 12: 2-6 .... Lk. 2:22-38.

Visit of Wise Men .... Mt. 2:1-12.

Journey to Egypt Mt. 2:13-15.

Male Children Killed. Mt. 2:16-18.

Return to Nazareth Lk. 2:39; Mt. 2:19-23.

It should be seen easily that there is no reference in any of these passages to any celebration annually of His birth. Nor will a study of the remainder of the New Testament reveal either a command to celebrate, or an example of celebrating his birth. The fact is we do not even know when He was born. In Egypt, about 200 A.D., one reads about the first "Christmas" feasts. But these were observed on May 20th. According to the CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, Lightfoot thought Jesus was born in September. Others, according to BRITANNICA, assign His birth to April 19th or 20th. Clement of Alexandria set His birthday on November l7th. Yet others commemorated Christ's birth on March 25th or January 6th.

Such division as to when Jesus was born should be proof that the Bible does not indicate the time of His birth. Had God intended for us to have some special celebration Of His birth, at least we would have been told when to have it. We do remember His death, but we remember His death weekly, rather than annually (I Cor. 11:26). By the order Of Liberius, Bishop of Rome, December 25th was chosen as the birthday of Christ, but this edict was not issued until 354 A. D. So the celebration began from the wrong source (a Catholic Bishop) and at the wrong time (354 A.D.) to have divine authority back of it. The mere naming of the feast as Christmas (from "Christ's mass") should indicate to us its origin.

I do not object to families getting together at this time (or at any other time) to exchange gifts and to enjoy a nice meal. Nor do I think it is wrong to eat a turkey on Thanksgiving Day, just because some others make of it a special day of worship. But when we participate as Christians in these times which to us are no more than Civil Holidays, let us be sure that we do not make of these joyous occasions something that God never intended them to be.

It is not wrong to observe National or Civil holidays. But we should remember that the Bible neither tells us when Jesus was born nor to commemorate His birth. This practice of connecting Jesus' birth with a holiday on December 25th is an invention of man.

Paul said, "Ye observe days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid of you, lest by any means I have bestowed labor upon you in vain." (Gal. 4: 10, 11). Let us not be guilty of making some day "holy" which God did not make holy.

December 17, 1970