Traffic is de rigeur and the malls are packed. Everyone's rushing and deep inside the recesses of my mind, I'm singing: "It's the most..horrible time of the year".
Even if people chide me for what appears to be a cynical thought, I have always made it a point to ask people to reconsider why we celebrate Christmas. Invariably, they point to Jesus as the Reason for the Season.
Well researched scholarship has pointed out the following:
- the Lord Jesus was born during a summer in 6 B.C.
- He was laid in a corn crib in cloths as a sign to visiting shepherds, who were told by a heavenly host of angels that Israel's Messiah was born in Bethlehem.
- And yes - Joseph and Mary, contrary to what's been told traditionally, were accommodated by their relatives in Bethlehem as they were there for the census ordered by Quirinius and the "wise men" visiting him were not kings, but rather, ancient astrologers from the kingdom of ancient Persia, who saw the heavenly bodies align in place to indicate the arrival of an incredibly powerful king (read the article on this link: http://www.eclipse.net/~molnar/index.htm
Bethlehem, apart from being part of prophecy and the hometown of Joseph, was also one of the villages outside Jerusalem where the lambs for the sacrificial offering in the temple were being raised.
The significant thing of that particular summer evening, when the "shepherds were watching over their flocks" was that it was lambing season - the time of the year when the new lambs were being born. The very same lambs that were going to be slaughtered as atonement sacrifices. The very same time when Jesus was born. Coincidental?
Notice also, the day of His death on the cross.
It was the Friday of the Passover sacrifice. And He died at approximately the time when the sacrifices of the passover lambs were to take place at the temple.
And in this holiday break, we lose out the significance of this detail: Behold, the Lamb of God, who comes to take away the sin of the world!
God in the form of a man - His very own Son, coming to be born as a man with one purpose: to die a cruel death in our behalf, in order that we may become sons of the Living God.
If anything - that, is the real reason for what we now celebrate as Christmas.