“Don’t Keep Christ in the manger!”
So many people this time of year stop to reflect on the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Although the Birth of Christ is recorded in Matthew chapters 1, 2 and Luke 1, 2, there is no Biblical or historical evidence that Christians celebrated Christ’s birth as a church festival or holiday. In fact it was not until 1038 A.D. that the Catholic Church celebrated the mass of Christ and in 1131 it was call the Christ Mass, which became known as Christmas.[i] (Taken from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03724b.htm).
As the Catholic Church developed it’s Christ Mass, which to this point in history was only a special mass to celebrate the birth of Christ, it was not until 1223 the first “Nativity scene” appeared. The Nativity scene was created by the Catholic priest, Francis of Assisi in 1223 to teach that Jesus was born into a poor family. Francis of Assisi was known for ministering to the poor and used the birth of Christ to show how Jesus could relate to the poor’s plight. (Taken from http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/nativity.shtml)
Although the Bible does not tell us the date of the birth of Christ or that we should celebrate His birth. Many people through the ages have tried to highlight this very important event in history; many times taking away or adding to the Biblical text, which only distorts the truth. However Christians must seek the truth and understand how God intended to save the human race, through Jesus Christ and His birth is very much a part of this.
As one reads the biblical accounts of Christ’s birth in Matthew and Luke, which are the only detail accounts of the events surrounding Christ birth, there are other passages in the New Testament that help to explain the importance of Christ birth as fulfilling God’s intended purpose for salvation such as:
· Jn. 1:14 states, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
· Gal. 4:4-5 reads, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
· Rom. 1:3, “concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh.”
· Rom 8:3, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,”
· Php 2:7, “but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
· Heb 2:14-17, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
As these scriptures point out, Christ’s birth was an essential part of God’s plan of Salvation. God’s plan was for Jesus to be born, in the flesh, of a virgin, and physically grow into a man, yet being fully God at the same time (Col. 2:9). Jesus later offered Himself upon the cross and then He was raised from the dead on the third day, for the sins of people.
So the next time you see a “Nativity scene” or hear the reading of Matthew 1,2 or Luke 1,2 remember this is just one aspect of Jesus’ life; there is more “to the story.” We must also remember that we could not have Jesus Death, burial and resurrection if it was not for His birth. Without Christ’s birth we have no Salvation, but also remember that God did not intend for Jesus to remain in the manger either, neither should we keep Him there. Let us learn the lesson that God intended to teach in Matthew 1, 2 and Luke 1, 2 and keep these passages in perspective with the rest of the scriptures.
Written by Mark T. Tonkery
[i] Some say the interest of Christ’s birth began in the 3rd or 4th Century, but there is no festival or celebration as such until 1038 A.D.