The Birth of Jesus
December 25th is a day in which many people celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is of interest to note, however, that the Bible never reveals the day on which the Messiah was born. Consequently, we can infer that such information is not significant for a Christian to know. It is not our purpose at this time to detail the origin or history of Christmas. It should be sufficient to make two observations. First, the Scriptures are silent about the matter. Those who are rightly seeking divine authority for all that they say and do (Col. 3:17) will carefully consider their actions pertaining to this holiday to ensure they are in harmony with God's word. Second, the New Testament clearly stresses Christ's death, but it does not emphasize His birth. Although His virgin birth was certainly important and necessary, the apostles (who were blessed to be led by the Holy Spirit into all the truth) did not celebrate it in any fashion. It is God's will that Jesus' followers commemorate His death by partaking of the Lord's Supper each first day of the week (cf. Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:23ff).

With these thoughts in mind, let us consider what Luke 2:1-7 reveals regarding Jesus' birth - "And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."

The end of Luke 1 records the birth of John the baptizer. Approximately six months later, Jesus was born (cf. 1:37). Although it is understood that Mary became pregnant by the power of God in Nazareth, she would give birth to the Son of God in Bethlehem. Caesar Augustus, the nephew and successor of Julius Caesar, was in power at that time and desired that all the Roman empire (essentially, the civilized world at that time) be registered. In other words, Augustus wanted to conduct a thorough census. He required all to register in their "own city."

Luke's reason for mentioning this census appears to have been to explain why Jesus was born in Bethlehem. One would naturally expect Mary to give birth in Nazareth, where she resided (cf. 1:26). Of course, it was no accident that Mary gave birth to Jesus away from home. The prophecy of Micah 5:2 required the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem!

Bethlehem literally means "house of bread." It is fitting that the "bread of life" would be born in the "house of bread" (John 6:35). Bethlehem was called the "city of David" because he was born and reared there. Bethlehem is 76 miles south of Nazareth.

While in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus and "wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger." It was customary for babies to be wrapped in these long bands of cloth, but it was unusual to place a child in a manger (i.e., a hollow place for food; a feeding trough in a stable). Consider the humble circumstances in which the Savior of the world was born (cf. Phil. 2:5-11)! The reason baby Jesus was laid in a manger was "because there was no room for them in the inn." The keeper of the inn did not know how important Jesus was or else he would have found a way to make room. The same is true with people today. Those who fail to realize the importance of serving and obeying Jesus Christ, the son of God, will crowd their lives with matters of little importance until there is no room left for Christ. We will have more to say about this notion tomorrow.