I grew up in a small town in America’s Midwest with its own typical micro-cultural norms. In my hometown, everyone – “religious” or not – knew Jesus was born December 25th. Any talk to the contrary came from snooty intellectuals who had settled in our town, usually to live a quiet life as educators preparing for retirement.
It wasn’t until I had moved from that environment and came to “own” my beliefs after being born again (as the Scriptures teach), that I considered an alternate date of His birth.
For many people, including myself, a fair amount of influence on our thoughts and actions can be traced to the surroundings in which we were raised.
I don’t remember the first time I thought about the actual date of Jesus’ birth from strictly a biblical perspective. However, I do remember the raw emotions I felt when, as a new believer in Jesus, I heard someone ridicule and demean a holiday I considered spiritual in a way I never had before.
Gathering with family for Christmas had taken on new meaning for me as a believer. I purchased gifts and spent money with pleasure and spiritual intentions. An evening at church, singing and being in the company of fellow believers, replaced a night in a smoke-filled tavern doing shots with my “bar family” in keeping with the “holiday spirit.”
So, here I was finally excited about the “holiday season” and now someone (from my family of faith at that!) was not not only “raining on my parade,” but insisting that the parade was a lie. I had a “cocktail of emotions” as anger, confusion, and embarrassment all mixed together. And on that night I decided I was having no part of this alternate possibility, and refused “the drink” of celebrating Christmas.
Since that incident years ago, I have considered the day and date of the birth of the Savior in my study of Scripture and even outside sources. That study takes one either to a world of the worst of skepticism or to serious prophetic foreshadowings of Messiah and the warmest of reflections associated with the birth of Jesus.
But as often is the case, my answer – or if I may be so bold – the answer to the question of when Jesus was born was hidden in plain sight. Right where it should be: in the Scriptures.
I had read Galatians 4:4-5 many times. But, for some reason, this time it put everything in its proper perspective regarding the birth date of our magnificent Messiah – Jesus.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
There it was. There was no disputing the purposeful simplicity as I read those words: “in the fulness of time.”
At exactly the right time in history – and in the right place, under the right circumstances – the right person came to give us the right to become children of God.[i]
Now that you know exactly when Jesus was born, you can focus on why He came: to redeem, to save sinners. And be reminded of our commission to tell others this truth – before the predetermined hour of His return.[ii] Isn’t that what really matters?
[ii] Just as many were not expecting Messiah’s “fulness of time” birth, most people are not anticipating His promised return. Though the day and hour are as yet unknown to us, our heavenly Father already has that date circled on His eternal calendar (Matthew 24:36; 42-44). Are you eager for Jesus’ return for His own?