When was Jesus born? We are nearing a time of the year when most of the religious world will be celebrating the birth of Jesus. Most people assume that December 25th was the day Jesus Christ was born. It is a proposed date given by a man many years ago, that has become accepted by most religious people as fact. Was December 25th the day Christ was born? What should be the Christian’s response to this assertion?
The Bible gives no date regarding the birth of Jesus. It could have fallen in one of many months. We do know that shepherds were out in the field tending to sheep on the night of his birth. This would tend to suggest that the birth, actually occurred during a warmer month other than December, but no one can be for sure. Any attempt to give an exact date is mere speculation at best.
Why was this date chosen? The date of December 25th was a date chosen by a Catholic bishop named Liberious in 354 A.D. Many disagreed with his suggested date at that time. Days in nearly every month were offered by others. At the time bishop Liberious chose to observe Christ’s birth, there was another holiday observed by non-Catholics which was designated as the time to celebrate the birth of the sun. The pagan festival with its merrymaking was such a poplar custom, many Catholics would celebrate Christ’s birth at the time their pagan acquaintances celebrated the birth of the sun. Thus, began a long -standing tradition that is still observed by most of the religious world today.
What should the response of New Testament Christians be? Should we observe this Catholic holiday with its religious connotations? Is it wrong for Christians to celebrate December 25th as a holy day in which Jesus was born? Consider what the Bible has to say regarding these questions.
Jesus teaches that we are to observe all things whatsoever He has commanded (Matt. 28:20). Where has God commanded Christians to observe December 25th as a religious holy day? Paul warned Christians not to go beyond the things that are written (1 Cor. 4:6). Is not creating and observing Christmas as a holy day going beyond what has been written? Are we not teaching our children the doctrines and commandments of men when we give religious significance to December 25th (Matt. 15:9)? God gave his people one special day. Paul told some Christians that he was afraid of them because of the days, months and seasons they observed, lest he should have labored in vain (Gal. 4:10,11). These acts and others were evidence that they were being removed from the simple gospel of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:6-8).
New Testament Christians should not Observe Christmas with a religious connotation because it is not a holy day. A day can only be holy if designated so by God. December 25th was chosen by a Catholic bishop, not by God. It is a Catholic tradition that most Protestants have embraced. “Was not this special event in history something that should be remembered?” Absolutely! However, everything that Jesus did on earth was of special significance. Name one event recorded in our New Testament that wasn’t significant and shouldn’t be remembered. There is not one single reference that is not of great importance. This doesn’t mean that one should never study about and be thankful for his birth. However, it is one thing to study about and be thankful for Christ’s birth and another thing to set aside a particular day as a holy day to observe each year.
What then can a Christian do during the holiday season? A Christian can recognize the day as a national holiday. Our country recognizes many national holidays. Recognizing a day as a national holiday doesn’t require that one place any religious significance to the day. Christmas can be a time to celebrate the end of the year. It can be used as an opportunity to demonstrate love toward family and friends by giving gifts. Christians can get together for parties during the season and enjoy each other’s fellowship. Christians can accept bonuses from their places of employment. Christians can take days off given by their employer. Christians can decorate their homes with seasonal items that do not suggest an observance of a religious holy day. In other words, Christians can do anything others do except place a religious significance to the day.
We need to be thankful for the birth of the Savior. We need to be thankful for the life he lived. Especially we need to be thankful for the sacrifice that he made on Calvary. This event was of more importance to humanity than any other in the history of the world. Let us not minimize the remembrance of this resurrection on the first day of every week by introducing man-made “holy days” or elevating any other event above the death, burial and resurrection that transpired in the long ago.