If I was to tell you a story, but before I did, I told you that this story was true and it was the greatest thing I could ever tell you, I think you would be intrigued. I think your ears would perk up a little bit even if you didn’t care because it sounds cool, and inviting, and interesting. So. in my enthusiasm, I proceed to tell you the story line and it is captivating! You may have even heard it before a couple times or watched a show that was similar to it. You are left feeling awestruck. When I stop, you have this yearning to learn more so you find the book I told you about and start reading. This is when you discover that my story isn’t quite as truthful as I portrayed. You realize that my story has some flaws. In fact, my story actually consists of just as many fabrications as it does truths. How would you feel? Would you come back to ask me about it? Or, would you walk away and never seek further clarification?
These are my thoughts when I see nativity scenes or plays about Christmas . I wonder if the people who are watching these (whether they know Jesus or not) will eventually open their Bible and wonder why we didn’t tell them the truth. When I say this, let me also add that the myths that have grown legs in the retelling of the birth of Jesus may not be exactly earth shattering, or life changing — as a burning bush displayed on Noah’s ark might be, or Goliath portrayed as one of the men captive in the lion’s den. Still, I have never seen a story that is one of the most important days in history, so jumbled with non truths and this is my point.
Did you know that the wise men, (also known as the Magi) never came to see Jesus as a baby? Did you know that the Bible (considered to be the Word of God by most in the Christian community) doesn’t even say there were three wise men? We only know of the three gifts they brought? Did you know that Frankincense is actually part of a tree? Did they even have boxes or bows in their day?
What we do know is that the Magi followed the star until they found the house where Jesus and his mother Mary were … years after Jesus was born.
But speaking of Jesus’ birth, did you know that there was no stable? The Bible never mentions a stable. The scriptures simply state that they laid Him in a manger. Should this automatically imply the barn out back? No, and yet this is what we tell our children, and by extension, the public at large. And yet, the manger was inside the house because that is where the animals were kept at that time. In one of the rooms inside the house! Neither do the scriptures say that Jesus was born at night! For all we know, He may have been born at 2:00 in the afternoon on a day that was 30 degrees outside.
Did you also know that the innkeeper didn’t exist? This one might be the most shocking revelation for some of you because I know it was for me. There was no inn. There was no knock on the door to say that the inn was full and that Joseph had to drag Mary out back to the filthy poop filled barn because there was nowhere else for them to go. The word used in the scripture means no spare room. The house they were staying in didn’t have a spare room where Mary could go birth her baby in private. Therefore, she would have had Jesus in the main room and laid him in the manger that was built in the wall.
Some of this should be obvious. I mean think about it for a moment — have you ever heard of a pregnant woman in labour being turned away? Do you really think that even the most naive parents don’t have a plan for their baby’s birth? They had 9 months of planning and Mary spent the first three months of her pregnancy with Elizabeth who was well into her years and pregnant herself! And besides all of that, they were not in some strange land at the time. They were in Joseph’s home town! Do you really think that Joseph would not have been able to find even one person that would let him stay with them? Now that we have that cleared up, I truly want to tell you the most amazing and historically accurate story that you will ever hear.
There was a young virgin woman who was highly favoured in the eyes of God. She was deemed to be a good servant who trusted God and lived her life accordingly. She was pledged to be married to a man named Joseph. One day, an angel appeared to Mary and told her that the Holy Ghost would come upon her and she would become pregnant with a son and she was to name Him Jesus. The angel told her that He would be great and He would be called the Son of the Most High. Mary believed the angel and the angel left her.
Joseph was not quite sure about what Mary had told him so he made a plan to divorce her. He did not want to shame her so he didn’t say anything. Then, while he was sleeping, the angel of the Lord came to him in a dream and told him that what Mary said was true and she would give birth to a son. She told Joseph to name the baby Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.
In all of this, the prophecies from before indicating that a virgin would conceive and give birth and that He would be called Immanuel (being interpreted as God with us) came to fruition, confirming the prophecy as truth.
Now during this time while Mary was pregnant there came a decree that everyone must return to their own hometown to register. So Joseph and Mary headed on their way to Bethlehem because that is where he was from. When they arrived, they settled themselves because the baby would be born soon.
When Mary went into labour they prepared a place for her in the house. I’m not sure what this would have looked like but we can safely assume that it was either in the main room or they prepared a place for her in the side room where the animals were usually kept. Since Jesus was not the first baby ever to be born, we can also safely assume, the animals were removed from that area and fresh hay was put out as a bed.
After Mary gave birth, Jesus was wrapped in swaddling cloths and placed in her arms. She would have held him like all new mothers do.
About the same time, in a field not far away, an angel appeared to shepherds whowere watching their sheep, and said, “Do not be afraid! I bring you good news that will cause great JOY for all the people! Today in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you! He is the Messiah! You will find Him wrapped in cloths and laying in a manger.”
The shepherds hurried off because they wanted to see the Saviour of the world! Sure enough, they found Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus who was laying in the manger. He was probably sleeping like most newborns would be. Then the shepherds hurried off to tell everyone the great news! They spread the word that the angel had told them this baby was the Saviour!
Now some time after Jesus was born, a star appeared in the sky and some Magi saw it. They followed the star and began questioning people about where the baby was born — who was King of the Jews. They wanted to worship Him. King Herod of course was not happy at all about a competing King so He told the Magi that when they found Jesus, they should tell him so that he could worship too. Of course, King Herod was lying.
When the Magi left Herod’s, they continued to follow the star until it stopped over the place where Jesus was. By now, He was a young child. On coming to the house, they were overjoyed when they saw Jesus. So much so, that they bowed down and worshiped Him! Then they opened their treasures, giving gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Then, they were warned in a dream that they should not return to King Herod. So instead they fled. When they were gone an angel appeared to Joseph and told him to take Jesus and His mother away because of the danger. Joseph did as he was told and they fled to Egypt, where they stayed until Herod had died.
It’s definitely not the end but that is the beginning. The actual beginning. The bare bones, truly humbling birth of our Saviour. A girl who became a mother and trusted God enough to know that in all of this, He had a plan. As we can see from her salutation, wherein she said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” In other words, she chose to trust God and be part of His bigger plan for her life. That is, she recognized that God was willing to take on an earthly, physical form so that He could save His people from their sins.
Thus. in spite of what we have been told, the birth of our Saviour is truly glorious! There was never any need for us to exaggerate the events that surrounded His birth. Neither did we need to add, modify, or remove scriptures in any way … because our perspective is nothing in comparison to His perfect plan. So please, the next time you see a nativity and the Magi all bowing before the baby in a scene placed inside a small dirty wooden stable, pick up a Bible and talk to the owner of said nativity.
And the next time you hear your church saying they want to do a Christmas play, again pick up your Bible and read the scriptures so that you can share the amazing and truthful story about Jesus’ birth. So we can all celebrate together, because the one truth that should radiate in all thing is that Jesus Christ is Lord.