In Charles Dickens wonderful story, A Christmas Carol, we meet up with the familiar tightwad, Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge declares that "Christmas is a humbug!" He begrudges giving his underpaid and overworked employee, Bob Cratchet, even that one day off! He is a pitiful and miserly character until the end, of the story when he learns selfishness and greed is the worst poverty of all.
Some brethren are offended by the idea of Christmas. Generally, this comes from the origin of the very word Christmas: Christ+Mass. In Catholicism, this is a mass of religious service in commemoration of the birth of Christ. Though no one knows when Jesus was born, the December 25th date is traced back to the time of Constantine, about 325 A.D. Certainly, if one has in mind a celebration of Christmas while teaching error in reference to the keeping of the mass and the doctrine of transubstantiation, we should all be unalterably opposed to it.
The Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas on January 6. The Armenian church celebrates it on January 19. If one takes Luke 3:23 literally rather than, an approximation, it is possible to get a general idea of the time of His birth. Our Lord's ministry on the earth lasted 3 1/2 years (Dan. 9:27).
Furthermore, we can approximate the time of His death more accurately than His birth because of it's nearness to the Passover celebration ( Matthew 26:2). Now, during the Jewish Sacred Year, the Passover was the first in point of time of all annual feasts. It was observed the first month of the religious year, on the 14th day of Nisan (our April). The Feast of Unleavened Bread began on the day after the Passover, and lasted seven days (Lev. 23:5-8).
So, if Jesus was literally 30 years old when he began His ministry ( Luke 3:23), and died 3 1/2 years later, it would follow that His death was some six months after His birthday. This would put His birth somewhere in October of our calendar year. Remember not to take this approximation too seriously, because Luke says that Jesus "...was about 30 years of age..." ( Luke 3:23). Further, had the Lord wanted us to know the exact date of His birth, it would have been revealed in Scripture.
Our brethren generally take three approaches to Christmas: (1) have nothing to do with it; (2) enjoy it has a holiday season, a tradition of family reunions and giving, but attach no religious significance to it; (3) while not celebrating Christ+Mass, remember the wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ. Which of these is right? I believe all of them are!
Paul said: "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind" ( Romans 14:5). So long as no one teaches error, we should let each brother and sister make their own decision regarding Christmas. in the next verse, Paul says: "He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord..." ( Romans 14:6). After all, we will stand before the judgment seat of Christ ( Romans 14:10-12), and will not be each other's judge ( Romans 14:4).
In this area then, let Christian liberty reign. While we may legitimately decide to say "Bah Humbug" to Christmas, let us never do so to our brethren who hold one of the other two divergent views we've discussed. May we always love and encourage each other in this and every season of the year.
December 15, 1991
Related Articles: Print this Article
Discuss this Article Back to the Sermon Page