You probably have heard the Christmas story at least a few times in your life. The one found in the Bible, not the movie. While it’s well-known, there are also a lot of myths surrounding the Christmas story.
So let’s look at myths we believe about the Christmas story. Here are the 6 most common myths about Christmas that we believe.
Jesus Was Born On December 25th
Yes, we celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25th. Well, some people start celebrating WAY earlier. But Jesus (most likely) wasn’t born on that day. So, when was Jesus born? We don’t know.
How’d we end up celebrating Jesus’ birth on December 25th?
There are two possible reasons. Some historians believe that it was a Christian reaction to a Roman pagan holiday. The Christians more or less replaced something bad with something good. While other historians believe the date is a response to the traditional date of Jesus’ crucifixion in March.
Whatever the case is, the 25th is known around the world as the day we remember Jesus coming to earth. I don’t think the date matters as much as us remembering that Jesus came to earth.
For more about Emmanuel: What Emmanuel Means
Jesus Was Born In 0 A.D.
At first glance, this makes sense right? B.C. stands for “before Christ,” therefore, Jesus’ birth should mark 0 A.D. But not so fast…
Matthew 2:1 records that Jesus was born in the days of Herod, who died around 4 B.C. The Bible also provides another hint by saying Herod decreed all babies 2 and under be killed. Thus, a probable dating of Jesus’ birth would be between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C.
Dates and calendars weren’t as universal for much of history as they are today. That can make nailing down exact details something a little more difficult. While we have plenty of historical evidence for Jesus’ life, there’s not much on the dating of his birth.
There Were Three Wisemen
Almost every Nativity scene and song about the wisemen mentions there were three of them, but the Bible never gives a number. Matthew 2 simply records that the Magi, or wisemen, visited Jesus.
The number 3 comes from the gifts they brought: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. There were 3 gifts, but we don’t know how many wisemen. It could be 3, it could be 10. We simply don’t know.
Also not normally talked about, the wisemen were sent on a mission by Herod to report the Messiah’s whereabouts… I think we know why Herod wanted to know where Jesus was… And it wasn’t to give him a personal gift.
The Wisemen Arrived The Night Jesus Was Born
We often think of the night that Jesus was born as this magical evening that would put any Hollywood movie to shame. They find a room in the nick of time, Jesus pops out nice and easy, and then all these people show up with gifts right on cue.
But that’s not how it unfolded. First, it was most likely highly chaotic. Have you ever seen someone give birth? Now picture that in the 1st Century– no doctors, and in a cave-like structure. It would not have been as silent as the song makes it seem. And second, no woman who’s just given birth wants a bunch of strange men showing up. In fact, during that time, the husband was often not allowed in the room during the birthing process.
It’s likely the shepherds showed up within the day. Jewish days began at sundown, so it’s probable they arrived sometime later that day. Or what we today would say, the next day.
But we don’t know when the wisemen arrived. It would have likely been at least a few days at the earliest, and before Jesus’ second birthday at the latest. But the Bible doesn’t give us any more detail than that.
Mary and Joseph Talked To All The Innkeepers
We often have this picture of Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem late and all the Inns are filled up, no vacancy. With no options left, they end up in a stable with all the animals.
But there are a few problems with that. First, this is the 1st century in a town with barely a few hundred people. They didn’t have Inns. When you traveled, you stayed with family or hoped a stranger would take you in. When Luke 2:7 says there was no room for them, it’s most likely referring to there being no room in the family home.
How could your own family not make room for a very pregnant Mary? It’s possible they arrived late and all the rooms were claimed. But seriously, who wouldn’t give up a spot for a very pregnant woman?
It’s more likely Mary was not allowed in because she was pregnant out of wedlock. That was a big no-no in that culture. The family likely didn’t want them in the house. No one was willing to give up their bed for someone found in that kind of situation. After all, who would believe their story?
So, no, Mary and Joseph probably didn’t go to all the Innkeepers. They most likely just went to their relatives and were denied a room.
So where was Jesus born?
Jesus Was Born In A Stable
Almost every depiction of Jesus’ birth holds that Mary was surrounded by a bunch of animals. This is commonly believed because the Bible tells us that Jesus was laid in a manger (Luke 2:7), which was a feeding trough for animals. So she was in a stable, right?
Not so fast. Mangers were also often stored on the 1st floor of homes where the small animals would sleep; while the family would sleep on the 2nd floor.
It’s possible that Mary gave birth to Jesus in a stable. Which would have likely been more like a shallow cave than what we traditionally think of. But it’s also possible that Jesus was born in a house. Likely it would have been a small house adjacent to the main house, used for the farmhands and animals on cold nights.
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