Separating the Bible truth from the Myth
documented by Steve Rudd
The birth of Jesus Christ is in direct fulfillment of many Bible prophecies, Isaiah 7:14 of the virgin birth; Genesis 3:15 that he was born of the seed of woman, Isaiah 11:1 that he would descend from the line of Jesse (king David); Micah 5:2 that he would be born in Bethlehem; Matthew 2:18 + Jeremiah 31:15 that Herod would slaughter all the children in an attempt for the Devil to kill the Christ child.
All these prophecies were made at least 500 years before Jesus was born. They stand as an irrefutable monument to the inspiration of the Bible and prove that God revealed himself through his messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.
Here is a strictly Biblical chronology of the birth of Christ. Jesus was born in the manger of an inn because there was no room for Mary and Joseph to stay in a room, in Bethlehem (Matthew 1:25 & Luke 2:1-7)
. That same night, angels announced to the shepherds that Christ was born and they visited the newborn Christ at the manger (Luke 2:8-20)
. Jesus was circumcised when He was eight days old (Luke 2:21)
. Jesus was then presented in the temple 40 days later after the "days of purification" were competed (Leviticus 12:2-6 & Luke 2:22-38)
Contrary to popular myth, the "star of Bethlehem" is merely referred to as a star the Magi saw. Further, there is no Biblical evidence that the star hovered over the stable where Jesus was born. Rather the star hovered over the house (See Matthew 2:11)
of Jesus some time after his birth. Matthew 2:1-2,7,9
says "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him. ...
Then Herod secretly called the magi, and ascertained from them the time the star appeared ... The star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was" The Magi first saw the star at the time of Christ's Birth, then they saw the star long after Jesus was born and arrived at the house of Jesus, probably when Jesus was about one. (see below) There is no evidence that the Magi were led to Jesus by a bright low hovering star. Such a star would have been quite noticeable by many people. The fact that Herod had to ask the Magi when the star first appeared, proves that the star was not out of the ordinary to the untrained eye. Only the Magi, who studied the stars, would notice it. Hence the idea of a very bright low hovering star shining over the stable where Jesus is born is wrong. On the other hand, the star the Magi were attracted by, has no acceptable natural celestial explanation and it is clearly a special miracle to attract the Magi.
After Joseph and Mary returned home from their journey, an unknown number of wise men (Magi), visited Jesus at his house (Matthew 2:1-12)
. The angel warns Joseph to flee to Egypt because of the impending slaughter of all the male children under the age of two (Matthew 2:13-15)
. King Herod kills all the male children out of fear that Jesus would supplant him as king (Matthew 2:16-18)
. After the death of King Herod, Joseph returns to Nazareth with Mary and Jesus (Luke 2:39 & Matthew 2:19-23)
. Jesus grows up in Nazareth.
There are several mistakes made when telling the story of the birth of Jesus that many believe to be true. First, we have no idea as to how many wise men there are. It could be 2 or 20! The Bible says that the wise men brought three gifts, gold frankincense and myrrh. It is more likely that since these were common currency items of value that each wise man, regardless of the actual number, brought a little of all three. We are not saying that there wasn't three, just that to say so is going beyond what is written. Another glaring error in all the nativity scenes is that the wise men were certainly not at the manger of the inn the night Jesus was born. It says that the wise men came to Jesus' house! It seems clear that the wise men came just prior to the time Herod issued his decree to slaughter all the children under two years. The star first appeared to the wise men when Jesus was born, but it led the wise men to Jesus' house. (Matthew 2:11 "And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother")
The Bible doesn't say the star shone over the manger. This was a sign only the wise men could discern. The average person would miss it. The star appeared for the purpose of leading the wise men to Jesus home. The wise men started their journey when the star first appeared (at birth). Being from the "east" most likely Persian or Mesopotamia (Modern Iraq) , they completed a journey of at least 500 miles. We can get a general idea as to how old Jesus was when the wise men visited by approximating the time it would take to make such a trip at that time in history. To travel 500 miles, would take 25 days is about the earliest they could have arrived under perfect conditions.
The exact date of Jesus' birth is a mystery. About the best we can do is to narrow it down to seasons. The Bible does give us one clue. The shepherds were in the fields with their flocks at night when Jesus was born. This clearly indicates that Jesus was born during the warmer seasons. During the coldest months like December or January, the shepherds didn't sleep in the fields but would bring their flocks into corals. There is virtual agreement among scholars that December 25 is not the birth date, not even the month that Jesus was born.
The Bible is absolutely silent about the celebration of Christ's birthday. The scriptures do not tell us to celebrate the birth of Christ but His death... and not once a year at "Easter" but every Sunday through the Lord's Supper. (Acts 20:7)
Any encyclopedia will give you the basic details of where and how the celebration of Christmas developed. What is important is that Christ's birth did fulfill many important prophecies. The event brought about great joy to the world when mankind's King and Saviour, "God with us", was born into the world.
Signs of the conception and birth of Christ: