I saw a sign in someone’s yard this morning that read “Happy Birthday Jesus.” Should Christians be celebrating Jesus’ birthday?
You might immediately think 'Of Course I celebrate Christ's birth! I'm a Christian.' However, there are Christians who object.
One objection to birthday celebrations is that they glorify an individual for nothing more than the accident of his birth. The argument could be made that such reasoning does not apply in Jesus' case, since we are commanded to glorify him. However, another Bible principle applies to both us non-glorious folks and to Jesus.
Jesus grew up hearing the scriptures read in the synagogue. He no doubt memorized every scripture he ever heard. So he would have known the principle expressed at Ecclesiastes 7:1, “The day of one's death is better than the day of one's birth.” What does that mean?
Consider: Which would you rather celebrate, April 20th or October 2nd? Babies are born every day, but on those two dates babies were born who grew up to change the world. So, pick a date.
If you picked October 2nd, congratulations, that was the birthday, in 1869, of a little fellow who grew up to be called Mahatma Gandhi.
If you picked April 20th, you should know that the sweet little bundle born on that date in 1889, the pride and joy of his mother and father, Maria and Alois Hitler, was named Adolf.
At birth, no one can say what a child will accomplish. He could grow up to be the next Neil Armstrong or the next Lance Armstrong, Alan Jackson or Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King or Billie Jean King. It isn't until a person dies that it can be known what effect he will have had on the world. Millions mourned the passing of Gandhi. Just as many rejoiced at the death of Hitler.
Since Jesus perfectly fulfilled every word of the scriptures we can be confident that he would have considered Ecclesiastes 7:1 to be true for himself, as well. Jesus commanded his followers to memorialize his death. “Keep doing this in memory of me,” he said.(Luke 22:19) The Bible gives us the day, even the hour, of Jesus’ death so that we can memorialize it. But nowhere in scripture are we told the hour, day or even the month of his birth. Nor did he command Christians to memorialize his birth.
Well, can’t we just pick a date and celebrate it anyway? Not really. Suppose the date you picked was a date honored by one of Jesus’ enemies? Suppose you picked April 20th?
As it happens, that is exactly what happened. Jesus’ enemy, Satan the Devil, maneuvered events so that December 25th, a date celebrated by pagans as natalis solis invicti, the ‘birthday of of the unconquered sun,’ was chosen. Giving it another name doesn’t change it.
Aaron, contrary God’s law against idolatry, built an image of a calf, then told people they would simply call worshipping it ‘a festival to Jehovah.’ (Exodus 32:1-7) Jehovah was not amused.
More to come.
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