after this week, i am certifiably the north point king killjoy of christmas. the governor of grinch. the wet blanket of wise men. the naysayer of nativity. the burglar of bethlehem.
christmas sadness overtook north point this week…on both wednesday and sunday. all because i had the audacity to point out that scripture is where we need to turn for the details of the christmas story…and not a european church hymn from less than 200 years ago.
shame on me.
here are a few daggers i plunged into the hearts of chagrined students and shocked adults:
we have no idea how old mary and joseph were. period. only speculation and tradition.
mary might not have ridden a donkey to bethlehem. the fact is, there is no mention of a donkey in the christmas story. some scholars suggest that the journey from nazareth to bethlehem might have been so difficult and treacherous, it would have been safer and more comfortable for her to walk.
the trip from nazareth to bethlehem was 80-90 miles of slow-going travel. it could have taken many days, if not weeks with a pregnant woman.
they may have been in bethlehem for a while before the baby jesus was born. scripture simply says that jesus was born some time after they had arrived.
the young couple had to go to bethlehem because of the census. why bethlehem? because it was joseph’s home town. could it be possible that his mom and dad lived there? maybe there were other brothers that were making similar trips back home to be counted. honestly, i’ve never really noticed this before.
there is no mention of an innkeeper. it’s a shame, because he always plays such a cool role in all the church reenactments of the nativity scene. you know. “…there’s no room in the inn.” so dramatic.
in fact, our whole concept of “the inn” needs to be a second look. the word for “inn” occurs only two times in the new testament. once in the christmas story (luke 2:7). the only other time is in another familiar story. the night before jesus was to die, jesus sent peter and john to make preparations for the passover and what was to be the last supper. here’s how it plays out:
“As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, `The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there.” Luke 22:10-12
the word translated “inn” in the christmas story, is translated “guest room” in the passover story. a guest room in a private residence. a guest room in somebody’s house.
here’s a thought. what if mary and joseph showed up at his parent’s house or a house of a neighbor or relative, and the guest room of the house was already full? what if his brothers (and their families) had arrived earlier and already had the spare room?
what if “no room in the inn” really meant “the guest room was already taken” ? i can’t prove it, but it seems like a reasonable explanation of what may have happened. just sayin’…
the bible makes no mention of a barn or a stable or a cave. it only says that after jesus was born, mary wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger. a manger was some kind of trough or shelf where animals would eat. archeological excavations have shown that many first century homes would have an attached room where certain animals would be kept (and easier to care for). maybe that’s where they spent their first few nights.
the song “away in a manger” says that the baby jesus made no sounds of crying. my guess is he probably kept his mom and pops up like any other newborn. just my opinion. the bible says nothing about baby noise.
in spite of our love of the great christmas carol, “we three kings”, we’ve just got to understand that “magi” are not kings… they are wise men…probably astrologers or star gazers from orient. and there’s no mention of how many. just that there was more than one (the word is plural). my best guess is they were probably quite a few that were traveling together…for safety…for ease of making the journey.
and speaking of the journey of the magi…check out matthew 2:16. it looks like the magi didn’t arrive in bethlehem to see jesus for at least a year, maybe even two years, “after” jesus was born. so much for three kings and three camels hanging around the stable on the night jesus was born.
so enough of this. here are the points:
we only have god’s word as our source of truth and accuracy about the christmas story. everything is speculation and tradition. always go with god’s word.
none of my non-traditional observations or conclusions change the essence of the story. the birth of jesus was the fulfillment of prophecy. he was the promised messiah sent to save people from their sins. his conception was supernatural. his life and teaching would turn the world upside down. his death would pay the price for our sin. his resurrection would prove he was fully god.
now that was something that made the angels sing.
we don’t need no stinking donkey.
…can i get a little “charger love”?