BUT WE DO KNOW
By Curtis Pugh
By Curtis Pugh
Often we hear it said regarding the birth date of the Lord Jesus, “Well, nobody knows the exact day when He was born.” This is true, but the general attitude seems to be that since we do not know the precise date of His birth then we can celebrate just any day of the year. Whether or not it is idolatry to observe Christmas is not our subject and so we will not enter upon that area here and now.
But the truth is that while we cannot know the precise date of the Lord's birth, we most certainly do know the season of the year when he was born. Let me explain. Take, for example, a man who dies precisely on the same date that he was born. Regardless of his age, we may assuredly say that if he died in the Spring, he was born in the Spring also: given that he died the exact same date as he was born. Take another man, for example. This man we will say lived to be about seventy-and-a-half years old, give or take a few days. If he died in the Spring, that half year of his life tells us that he lived about six-months past his last birthday. So we may be assured that such a man who died in the Spring and who lived six months past his last birth day was born in the Fall. He was born six months (and however many years he lived) prior to his death date. The math is simple.
Now all credible Bible scholars are agreed that the Lord's earthly ministry was about three-and-one-half years long. Especially from the seasons and the Passover feasts mentioned in the Gospel of John is the length of the Lord's preaching ministry clear. And we know that He entered His preaching ministry when He was about thirty years old. Probably that means He was in His thirtieth year. (See Luke 3:23). A Jewish man was expected to have married and entered his life's work by the age of thirty. In fact, the Jewish priests did not begin their service in the temple until they were thirty years old. The Bible is clear: “From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation,” (Numbers 4:3). We cite this last only to show that the life-work of a Jewish man was expected to have begun by his thirtieth year.
Leaving aside the time that the Lord's earthly family traveled to Bethlehem for the tax registration and other circumstances, let us get back to the season of the Lord's birth. Beginning His preaching when He was about thirty years old and laboring at that work for about three-and-one-half years means that Christ was about thirty-three-and-one-half years old when He was nailed to the tree. Probably He was in His thirty-third year. It is that half-year that does it. We know that He died during Passover season. The Jewish Passover was and is still observed in the Spring – our March or April, depending upon the phases of the moon.
Now if the Lord Jesus died in the Spring, and without controversy He did, and He lived some six months beyond His last birthday, then go back six months from His date of death and you will be near His date of birth. He died in the Spring, therefore He was born in the Fall. And that fits with all the other facts, secular and sacred, regarding His birth.
So why does the world celebrate His birth in mid-Winter? (This question is aside from the question as to why professing Christians celebrate His birth at all!) The fact is the mid-Winter celebration existed from most ancient times – long before the birth of Christ. It was a pagan celebration tied to the Winter solstice: to sun worship: to the worship of the fertility gods and goddesses as is all paganism ultimately. The early Catholic church (before she was divided into the Eastern and Latin or western branches) saw her “converts” very much wrapped about with pagan customs and practices – pagan worship. So she incorporated the supposed observance of Christ's birth in with and originally on the dates of the pagan celebrations and called it Christmas.
So there you have it: WE DO KNOW the season in which Christ was born AND WE DO KNOW that while God never commanded its observance, He did forbid idolatry to His people.
Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726