The purpose of this blog is to look at the history of when Christmas Day commenced and what has led to the secular celebration of Christmas and its consequences. Then I want to look at the biblical significance of the birth of Christ and how it applies to us today. Constantine the Roman Emporer instigated Christmas Day 25/12 in the year 336 AD and the first celebration took place. This was a very bold declaration for up that point in time the Church and society did not celebrate birthdays for any person, so, significantly, the first person to have their birthday celebrated was Jesus Christ. However, it is very clear that the 25th of December is not the actual birthday because no one knows that actual birthday because of the lack of recorded details at that time and the 25th of December could not be the day. After all, this a winter day, and the bible records that the shepherds were with their flock at night, and in winter the sheep would be in their fold at night. There has been much written about the choice of that day by Constantine which I do not want to comment on except to say I am glad that a day has been set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus. About this time a rich man from Turkey –Saint Nickolas- started to give gifts to people around him and this is how gift-giving commenced, however, in some European countries gifts are given on the 4th of December. And by the end of the 18th Century gift-giving was well established. By the mid-1800s the myth of Santa Clause began to appear and he was immortalised by a cartoon in 1881 published by a leading newspaper and since that time has become very popular. Over the last number of years, the god of this world has stepped in so that Christmas celebrations have no spiritual significance. Christmas has become commercialised and people flock to have their photo taken with Santa who is only make-believe. Commercial television stations have for years been entertaining the people with a carol spectacular which is designed to entertain the people. Chrismas-time has become a holiday time when families enjoy themselves. Be very clear I am not saying that families should not be having a great time together – what I am saying this is when we celebrate the birth of Christ at this time.
As I consider the importance of the birth of Jesus I am overwhelmed by how His birth was prophesied hundreds of years before the event. It was prophesied that He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), He would be of the lineage of David (Isaiah 11:1), and He would live in Nazareth (Matthew 2:23). This demonstrates the greatness of God and how He tells us of His plans. Galatians 4:4 says: “But in the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law”. NLT “But when the right time came. God sent His Son, born of a woman, subject to the law”. This verse clearly shows us that Jesus was born at the right time. Now I want to look at what the Angel said to Joseph and the shepherds. Matthew 1:21 says: “ And Mary shall bring forth a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins”. And Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on the earth peace, goodwill toward men!”. As I consider the reason for celebrating Christmas, if it not declaring that Jesus is the Saviour of the world, what I do brings glory to God, the life that I live brings peace and I show goodwill to others, any other activity is not from the Lord but learned behaviour from the world and as such should not be part of how we live. As I have Reflected on Christmas Day I have been challenged to put Christ first in my life.