Happy Birthday, Jesus!
You do know, don’t you, that Jesus was not born on December 25th? Most likely He was born either in the late spring or early fall. The date of December 25th was arbitrarily borrowed from a winter festival celebrated by the ancient Romans. But I’m not on a one-man crusade to do away with celebrating Jesus’ birth on December 25th. The important thing is that a real person named Jesus was born in the land of Israel 2,000 years ago.
His birth mother was named Mary; his stepfather was named Joseph of Nazareth, a woodworker and carpenter. Jesus had real half brothers and sisters. In brief, Jesus was a real person who was born, lived, and died by execution as a criminal at age 33. Those are all facts which can be proved historically and archaeologically. But the facts don’t stop there. An additional fact is that after He was killed and buried, 72 hours later he was brought back to life by the power of God the Holy Spirit. After that, He returned to heaven and will come to earth the second time to inaugurate and establish the Kingdom of God on earth.
Christmas, then, is about not only Jesus’ birth, but it’s also about his life, death, resurrection from the dead, his ascension to heaven, and his future return to earth. Christmas is a “package deal”; it’s not about only one part of the story—his birth—but about all the other events about Jesus that together comprise the Gospel, the “Good News.”
I know! I know! To be “politically correct” here in USAmerica, we’re not supposed to greet people with “Merry Christmas” these days. The word “Christ” seems to offend a lot of people. But . . . I’m writing it anyhow: “Merry Christmas!” So there . . . Let the political correctness police come and arrest me! Slowly but surely Christmas is fading from our culture, being replaced by such counterfeits as “Winter Holiday” and “Celebration of the Winter Solstice.”
GOD OF NOW
God transcends the four known dimensions of time and space, “residing” in a hyperdimensional, transdimensional, or polydimensional “place” called eternity. In fact, current science tells us there are many more dimensions than only the four we live in. Some physicists say there are at least 10 dimensions . . . or many more. God transcends all of them, no matter how many there are. And . . . because of those polydimensions beyond time and space, time can actually turn in on itself and go “backwards.” Scientists have proved mathematically that can happen, although they haven’t seen it happen in real life . . . yet. God dwells “outside” of and “above” time and space so that past, present, and future are all simultaneous to Him. For God, everything is always “now.”
That being the case, from God’s eternal perspective his coming to earth as a human baby is forever occurring “now”—as well as 2,000 years ago. For God, time really can go backwards: not actually, but I hope you’re getting a feeling for what I’m trying to say about time. From God’s perspective in eternity, the entire life span of Jesus—his conception by the Holy Spirit, his birth from a virgin mother, his sinless life, his cruel death, his resurrection from the dead, and his return to heaven—are always “now.”
So God gets to celebrate Christmas all the time—allwhere and allwhen! And we can celebrate it all year . . . if we choose to. God is continually—always and ever—pouring out his love to all humanity—from a manger in Bethlehem, from a cross on a hill outside Jerusalem, from an empty tomb, and from his throne of grace in eternity. Remember: God’s throne is a throne of grace, not of judgment, the foundations of which are righteousness and justice.
Here’s a paraphrased version of some words from a Celtic song:
Love and grace, like mighty rivers
Flow unceasing from above.
And heaven’s peace and perfect justice
Kiss a guilty world with love!
Let’s not limit God to some events that happened in our four-dimensional time and space 2,000 years ago. Let’s not limit Jesus to a baby in a manger in a hillside stable 2,000 years ago. Yes, we celebrate our Saviour’s birth each December 25th, but we can also celebrate it daily throughout the year.
You’ve heard Jesus called—or named—Immanuel, haven’t you? By the way, the word is sometimes spelled with an “E” as the first letter. Immanuel is found in Matthew 1: 23, quoting from Isaiah 7: 14. Immanuel is a Bible word meaning “God is fully present with us.” But it doesn’t refer only to when Jesus was born that God became “with us” as God in human form. No, it means that since the time of Jesus God is with us in the sense that He is now always fully present with us . . . and in us.
Yes, God is always with us, living inside us in his “unbodied form” of Holy Spirit. He is fully present with us now during this mortal stage of our journey. He will be fully present with us when we die. And He will always be with us in the eons of time to come and in the eternal state after the universe and the earth are freshly renovated and restored by God. So . . . because God is always fully present with us and in us, we, too, can join God in celebrating Christmas all year long. Merry Christmas!
Christmas Gift Giving
What gifts do you hope to receive for Christmas this year? What presents do you plan to give for Christmas this year? How much will you be spending? How much can you honestly afford to spend? Why do we practice Christmas gift-giving in the first place? Oh, I know all about Saint Nicholas . . . and how the wise men brought gifts to Jesus when He was a toddler . . . and how gift-giving at Christmas has just “always been done.” But has it? Really?
Wanna know when gift-giving by God’s people actually began? I’m glad you asked. Gift-giving as we know it today—from a biblical perspective—actually began about 2,500 years ago during the time of Queen Esther in the Old Testament. After God delivered Queen Esther and the Israelites of that day from an evil plot to kill all of them, they celebrated “with days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor.” (Esther 9: 22).
500 years before Jesus was born, God’s people began giving gifts to one another and presents to the poor! But if our custom of giving gifts to others at Christmas began with the wise men giving gifts to Jesus, why do we give gifts to one another? After all, whose birthday is it? Aren’t we supposed to give birthday gifts to the one whose birthday we are celebrating?
A Shift in our Thinking
Maybe we need a radical shift in our thinking about who we should be giving birthday gifts to this time of year. Maybe we need to give gifts to Jesus instead of to other people. Maybe we’re missing something by what we’re doing. Maybe we need to change something—beginning this year. Jesus said on one occasion that there will always be poor people. I take that at face value. I believe there will always be poor people, both in this life and in the age to come after Jesus returns to establish his Kingdom here on earth with his universal headquarters in Jerusalem.
Some folks teach that after Jesus returns to earth, He will instantly make all things new by Divine fiat. I don’t hold that view. Instead, I firmly believe the Bible teaches that it will take a minimum of 1,000 years for Him to lay the groundwork for ushering in a fully restored universe and earth before we enter into a state of being called eternity.
Jesus Begins to Change Everything!
For example, I believe it will take at least a few centuries after He returns for Him to firmly take control of all earth’s governmental entities. It will be the same with earth’s educational systems. And dismantling earth’s military-industrial establishments, turning all of that vast industry into peaceful purposes. And restructuring all earth’s economic systems, finally beginning to truly eradicate poverty once and for all. Having said that, the poor will continue to exist on this planet for a long time to come. Jesus expects those who “have” to help those who “have not.”
So . . . during this Christmas season, why not give gifts to the poor around you? No one is so poor that they cannot locate someone nearby who is just a little poorer. Jesus said in Matthew 25 if we aid and assist those who are less well off than we are, that is the same as serving Him. How much money are you planning to spend on gifts to others this Christmas? Even putting some of it on your credit card that you won’t be able to pay off for months?
Joy In Giving
I guarantee you will find much more joy in giving if you will give to the poor rather than spend money you don’t even have for gifts no one uses. Or for gifts that are used for only a short while and then just tossed aside on a pile in the attic, garage, or basement with last year’s Christmas gifts. You and I cannot eradicate poor-dom from planet earth—at least not until after Jesus returns. Only King Jesus can—and will—eradicate poor-dom after He returns to fully establish his Kingdom on earth. But . . . we can help one poor person or one poor family in our locale during this Christmas season.
I guarantee that not very far from you wherever you live on this planet, there is at least one poor person or family you can help with gifts in Jesus’ Name! Do you remember that Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to receive”? (that’s in Acts 20: 35) Do you believe what He said? I do. It really is more blessed to give than to receive. I don’t believe that’s simply an empty statement Jesus made. I believe it’s a promise and principle as well.
It’s Jesus birthday; let’s give our gifts to Him instead of to one another!
You may be protesting, “What will people think! What will my children say? What will my family think? We’ve already bought most of our presents? I’ve already charged everything to my credit card. I’ve placed lots of things on layaway at K-Mart.” Here’s my response to all those excuses:
“S-o-o-o-o! Who are you trying to please?” Return those things. Get your money back. Remove things from layaway. Talk things over with your family. Find a poor person or family in your locale. Bless them richly this Christmas day! Spread your joy. Bless someone poor in the Name of Jesus. Make God happy. He will take great delight in your new approach to Christmas gift-giving. Give gifts to Jesus this year and all your years to come! Remember, He is always fully present with us and in us!
“For a child has been born – for us! The gift of a son – for us! [When he returns] He’ll take over running the world. His name will be: Amazing Counselor, Mighty God, Fatherof all time and eternity, Prince of Peace. His rule over earth will spread, and the peace He establishes will be limitless. He’ll rule from the historic throne of David over that coming kingdom, which He’ll place an a firm footing and keep it going with fair dealings and right living…lasting always.” —Isaiah 9: 6 and 7
To think about this month
“Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and LIFE to us He brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that we no more may die,
Born to raise the children of earth,
Born to give us second birth.
Hark! The herald angels sing:
‘Glory to our newborn King!’”
–adapted from Charles Wesley, 1739
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
Revised and Updated December 2020