Let me wish all those that read this a Merry Christmas! (albeit a trifle late)
The Christmas story is known to many people; however, although Christians are supposed to be people of the Book (the Bible), we are often influenced by other things around us. Here are some things I used to think about Christmas until I put aside Christmas stories and shows, and just looked at what the Bible says (in no particular order):
- There was no angelic chorus singing at Jesus’ birth: I had always assumed that this happened; when I read some comment that angels don’t sing, I thought the writer was wrong, and looked at the Biblical narrative to prove him wrong. However, what the Bible actually says is that one angel appeared to the shepherds announcing the birth (incidentally, that is why “The First Noel” begins The first noel the angel [not angels] did say…) with the well-known: Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. After that, the angel was joined by a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying [not singing]. I also find it interesting that the Scripture says “a multitude of the heavenly host” instead of “a multitude of angels”. That implies to me that the multitude was something different than the lone angel.
- The wise men did not visit the baby Jesus in the manger. This is certain from a comparison of the visit from the shepherds and the wise men. The shepherds found the babe lying in a manger. The wise men came into the house [not manger] and saw the young child [not babe] with Mary his mother. Moreover, Herod had quizzed the wise men about when the saw the star in the east, and when he had all of the children two years and younger killed, it was according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.
- Despite the song “We Three Kings”, don’t know that there were three of them, nor do we know that they are kings (and they probably weren’t). The Bible merely calls them “wise men”. There were three gifts given, but that doesn’t imply three of them. Many believe that these were descendants of the Babylonians, Persians, or Medes – they would have had access to Daniel’s prophecies about the Messiah, including the timing of His birth.
- Despite the popular imagery, we don’t know that Mary was riding a donkey. There is no donkey listed in the story; however, that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t one. People reasoning for the donkey would note that Mary, being as close to giving birth as she was, would have needed something. Against that is the indications that Joseph and Mary were very poor (based upon her purification offering). We should not be dogmatic in places where the Scripture isn’t clear.
I hope you enjoyed these notes. Feel free to leave a comment if you think of any others.