Understanding Jesus - Teaching Blog 04
We learn in Luke 2:1-15 that because of the origin of his family roots in the lineage of David, Joseph had to travel back to Bethlehem for a census. Mary is with him and she is ready to give birth but there is no room available for this couple. They are given a corner in a manger and this is where Jesus was born. Before we go any further, I want you to understand that all the male relatives of Joseph were also in the town of Bethlehem. Possibly his brothers, uncles, father and cousins, all had to travel for the census and I often wonder why their relatives didn’t invite this humble couple to stay with them?
Another point I want to make clear is Jesus was not born on December 25th He was probably born late in September or October during the Feast of Tabernacles. December 25th is a couple of days after the winter solstice and this date was selected by the Church. The date also accommodated the pagan festivities of the rebirth of the sun. Other traditions like the Christmas tree, giving of gifts and the Yule log can all be traced back to forms of worship that have crept into Church culture. Don’t get me wrong because I’m not saying we should change the date or the traditions, but the date should have lined up with the Feast of Tabernacles, just as Pentecost falls on the Feast of Pentecost and Passover lines up with His resurrection.
In Matthew 2:1-11 we read about the wise men and we imagine three kings because of traditional songs and cards and the giving of three gifts, but more than likely there were more than just three. The huge traveling caravan came from the East, probably in the direction of Iraq and the men were not kings. We learn in Verse 3, “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all of Jerusalem with him.” The caravan could have been hundreds of people entering an already over-booked town, but Jesus was born in Bethlehem to fulfill prophecy.
For a moment, let’s step back and think about the weight of this situation for Mary and Joseph because the experience must have been overwhelming for this young couple. They heard of angles appearing to shepherds in the fields to announce the birth of their child. Wise men came to visit and poured out expensive gifts for their baby. Yet, their own relatives were not rejoicing or participating in the birth of their first child. Then in a dream, Joseph is told to flee to Egypt because Herod is going to kill all the male children under two years old. Now remember, Joseph’s relatives are in the city, therefore we can conclude that some of his young male cousins and nephews were executed.
Mary and Joseph’s moment of great joy, the birth of their first child, was a mixture of great emotional turmoil. Nevertheless, this is the beginning of our Savior’s life here on earth. Jesus was born in humble surroundings and He lived a humble life as a carpenter. And when His ministry began, He left His family and humbly went to the cross for our benefit. What a Savior we have in Christ Jesus!