Christmas has become so mixed up with American culture that it’s hard to keep what’s biblical and what’s cultural straight. So I thought I’d offer three commonly-held beliefs about Christmas that simply aren’t found in the Bible.
1. Christmas is not Jesus’ birthday.
In fact, Jesus doesn’t have a birthday because He has always existed. Christmas is not celebrating Jesus’ birthday. It’s celebrating the amazing reality that Jesus, the eternally-existing, all-powerful God, became a person. Is it His human “birthday”? Sure, but that implies there was time when Jesus didn’t exist. That’s simply not true.
2. The wise men likely did not visit Jesus when He was an infant.
More than likely, He was a few years old. Three things imply this in Scripture. The first is in Matthew 2. After the wise men tricked Herod, he killed all the male children ages 2 and under (Matthew 2:16). Why would Herod need to kill male children 2 and under if Jesus was an infant at that time? Second, when the shepherds were told by angels to visit Jesus, they were told he was “born this day” (Luke 2:11). When they found Him, it says they “found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger” (Luke 2:16). But in Matthew when the wise men came, it refers to Jesus not as a baby, but as a “child.” Lastly, the shepherds visited Jesus when he was in the manger. But when the wise men visited Jesus, it says “going into the house they saw the child with Mary” (Matthew 2:11). (Notice, Joseph isn’t even there at that time!)
3. There may have been more than just three wise men.
There is nothing mentioned about the number of wise men, only the number oftypes of gifts (gold, frankincense, myrrh). See Matthew 2:1-12.
Maybe this Christmas is a good time to be more biblical than cultural.