Christmas is without a doubt the most memorable season of the year. It is the time that differences are laid aside and the mood seems to go up a notch in the positive direction. It has come to represent a time of love and sharing but traditionally it celebrates the birth of, unarguably, the most controversial man to ever live. But, is Jesus really the reason for the season?
It is impossible to cover the influence of this Jewish carpenter in one article. No figure in history holds a candle to him in terms of stature and weight of persona. The question then is what is so special about him? What makes everyone in the world have an opinion about him? Some love him, some hate him, some think he was a fraud and others call him the Son of God. With all of the mystique that surrounds him, one thing, however, stands out…history respects him.
Jesus was born in what is now the nation of Israel some 2000 years ago. His birth, history reports, came at a time when the nation of Israel was under Roman occupation. The country was in a state of oppression and the Jews sought a Savior to come rescue or redeem humanity. However, the country wanted a military leader much like King David had been many centuries prior and were not expecting the answer in the form of a baby.
Jesus Christ remains the greatest enigma in history to believers and skeptics alike. Some have said the word enigma is a bit of an understatement. In just three years, he managed to change the face of the world. The ancient Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, a Judaist by religion, wrote this when referencing him:
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. (Antiquities 18.3.3)
If people would take a look into non-religious history, they will probably discover that Jesus was not born in December at all. The timing of the concurrent Roman Census (did not happen in December), as well as “shepherds tending their flocks by night” indicate that it was not the deep, dark depths of winter when the Star of Bethlehem appeared in the night sky.
Regardless of human error and manipulation in pinning down the exact date of birth, clearly Jesus was born and was inarguably amongst the most dynamic, articulate speakers of all time. Worthy of celebration? Absolutely! However, the first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25 was in 336; during the time of the first Christian Roman Emperor named Constantine. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would always be celebrated on the date. But, is Jesus the reason for the season?
Lights, trees, gifts, candy canes, stockings, and even fun-loving Santa are all wonderful attributes of this special season. Although they have been deemed paganist by many, they add a seasoning to this time of year that makes it more beautiful. Pagan does not mean devil-worshipping, it simply means non-Christian or pre-Christian, to be more exact.
Jesus died over 2000 years ago, yet the story of his life remains a best seller. What is undeniable to the honest historian is that this one man’s life, teaching, and symbolic acts eventually created a social and cultural revolution that reverberated far beyond Palestine and altered almost every institution on earth — and is still felt today. His birth is being celebrated worldwide as Christmas; but, is he the reason for the season?
Most Christians would answer with an unequivocal yes! The truth is that early on, Christians did not celebrate Christ’s birth; it was His death and resurrection that was supremely important. The Bible explains the reason for Christ’s birth is to seek and to save those who are lost. The only method of “saving” was for him to defeat death and allow his blood to be deemed the ultimate sacrifice and redeeming power for humanity.
There is really one primary reason, one primary plan, and one primary purpose. Jesus came to suffer and die. Bethlehem only happened so Calvary could happen. Jesus was born to die.
So, Is Jesus really the reason for the season? No! Humanity is the reason. Jesus was born, he died and was resurrected – that is what happened. However, the “why” or reason would be to bridge the sin-gap between God and mankind. He came with one thought on his mind…us!! We are the reason for the season.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
All About His Story: Josephus
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