At our church Christmas dinner several years ago, our pastor handed out a questionnaire as an activity while we were waiting to chow down. The questionnaire consisted of trivia questions associated with the Biblical account of the Christmas story. It was very interesting to see the large number of people who had the wrong answers! Most of those people thought that they had the right answers. Very embarrassing to be a leader in the church and yet get the Christmas quiz wrong!
How can you possibly go wrong with questions about the Christmas story?? I mean, we all know the traditional Christmas carols and every year we watch the children put on the Nativity play. So how can we not know the truth about Christmas?
I think there are two main reasons, the first being that man-made traditions have superseded Biblical truths. For example, we all know that naughty Eve chewed a chunk of forbidden apple – right? WRONG! The Bible never states that it was an apple that Eve chowed down on. In fact, the Bible does not even mention what type of fruit it was.
Gen 2:16, 17 And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, You may freely eat of every tree in the garden, but you shall not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.
Gen 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasing to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make wise, she took of its fruit, and ate.
See – no apples!
There are many instances in which man-made tradition has become accepted as biblical truth. The traditional story surrounding the birth of Christ is a prime example. Here are a few examples of what has traditionally been generally accepted :
1) Mary rode a donkey into Bethlehem. The scriptures do not tell us how she traveled.
Luk 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee to be taxed (out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David).
Luk 2:5 And he took Mary his betrothed wife, being with child.
2) Mary was in the last stages of labour when they arrived in Bethlehem. The scripture does not say that, in fact, the way it was written , it appears that they were in Bethlehem for a little while before Mary delivered Jesus.
Luk 2:6 And while they were there, the days for her deliverance were fulfilled.
3) The family could not find room in an inn. Some Biblical scholars feel that since Joseph was returning to the town where his family line originated, that he would have had a number of relatives there and it is in one of their homes that they would have sought shelter. But since it was so busy because of the census, all his relatives’ homes were already full. The Young’s Literal Translation says that there was no room for them in the ‘guest-chamber’.
Luk 2:7 and she brought forth her son–the first-born, and wrapped him up, and laid him down in the manger, because there was not for them a place in the guest-chamber. (YLT)
4) Jesus was born on December 25th. No where in scripture does it mention what the date that Jesus was born. Many Bible scholars feel that it can’t have been in the winter because the shepherds were still in the fields with their flocks. In the winter, the shepherds bring the flocks in from the hills.
Luk 2:8 And in the same country there were shepherds living in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
5) Of course, we all know the carol “We Three Kings”. Quite the story has been built up around those men – almost all of it wrong. First of all, the Bible does not describe the men as kings, but rather as ‘wise men’. “Magi” or ‘wise men’ often worked as advisors to kings, but were probably not kings themselves. Also notice that the scripture does not mention how many wise men there were. And, we are never told their names. Sorry Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior.
Mat 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men came from the east to Jerusalem,
6) The wise men visited Jesus while he was still in the manger of the stable. The scripture tells us that the wise men followed a star to find Jesus who was in a house at that time.
Mat 2:11 And coming into the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother. And they fell down and worshiped Him. And opening their treasures, they presented gifts to Him, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
The Bible does not tell us that the shepherds followed a star nor does it mention an angel or angels hanging about the manger. And the Bible certainly does not mention a barn full of animals suddenly bowing down on their knees before Jesus.
I am sure that some might say “why does it matter if we believe these things?” “It’s not really all that important”. Or is it? This brings me to the second reason why people believe these stories rather than the biblical truths and that is because people either do not read and study the Bible for themselves, or they don’t know how to correctly interpret God’s Word. And it is in these two problems wherein lies the big problem. If you don’t read the Bible for yourself and if you don’t ask God to give you the knowledge and wisdom to discern the truth in the scriptures, you leave yourself open to being misled by any number of wacky theories and doctrines.
Jesus said “Joh 8:31,32 … `If ye may remain in my word, truly my disciples ye are, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’
Traditional man-made tales may be nice, but they are not the truth and they will not set you free. Instead, they may lead you astray.
Eph 4:14 so that we no longer may be infants, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, in the dishonesty of men, in cunning craftiness, to the wiles of deceit.
It’s time to grow up and accept truth over tradition.