What Would Jesus Say?
Christmas is said to be a birthday party for Jesus. So there could hardly be a better judge of Christmas than Christ. If he were here on earth, what would he say about Christendom’s biggest holiday?
IMAGINE, if you will, Jesus walking down the gaily bedecked and brightly lighted streets of one of Christendom’s major cities. It is Christmas time. The town Christmas tree blazes in resplendent glory. Santa Clauses seem to be everywhere. And so do the shoppers. They are dashing in droves to department stores to make last-minute purchases. From loudspeakers blare Christmas carols interspersed with blatant commercials. Cash registers add their financially satisfying song to the din. A “Merry Christmas” slides off active tongues. The Christmas spirit has reached a high pitch. Amid all the commotion Jesus inquires of a celebrant about the meaning of all this unusual bustle.
“Oh,” comes the reply, “this is Christmas, the greatest birthday party of the year.” “But,” asks Jesus, “whose birthday is it?”
Whose birthday is it? A strange question? Not really. A newcomer to Christendom would truly wonder. After all, does the furious exchange of gifts identify the one in whose honor the celebration is being held? Do the millions of dollars of advertising tell whose birthday is being celebrated? Do the lavish displays in store windows, the decorated Christmas trees or the colored lights strung in the streets tell whose birthday it is? And Santa Claus, the great central figure in millions of homes, who symbolizes this celebration as no other character does, fails to enlighten the stranger as to whose birthday it is.
Not strange, then, that Jesus would ask the celebrant: “Whose birthday is it?” “Oh,” comes the answer, “it’s December 25, Christ’s birthday.” Now what would Jesus say? That not only does the celebration fail to honor the Son of God but the date is all wrong. Referring to the Bible record, Jesus could show that he was not born in December at all. How so? Because the Bible shows he was born on or about October 1, 2 B.C., that he came as Messiah A.D. 29 and was put to death three and a half years later, or about April 1, A.D. 33. The account of the “seventy weeks’” prophecy at Daniel 9:24-27 and Luke 3:1, 23 and other scriptures testify to this.
But Jesus could point out still more: that there is a marked contrast in weather in Palestine between October and December. When Jesus was born, the Scriptures show, the shepherds were out at night: “There were also in that same country shepherds living out of doors and keeping watches in the night over their flocks. ‘And this is a sign for you: you will find an infant bound in cloth bands and lying in a manger.’” (Luke 2:8, 12, NW) Shepherds would not have their flocks out in the open fields in December but they would in October. The December date is all wrong.
TURNED ASIDE TO FALSE STORIES
Now what would Jesus say about Christendom’s religions’ taking part in a hoax and leading people to believe he was born on December 25? He would point to the prophecy made by one of his apostles: “There will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled, and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories.”—2 Tim. 4:3, 4, NW.
“Turned aside to false stories.” And why? It is “in accord with their own desires.” What an apt scripture! Though many people know Jesus was not born on December 25, they prefer to have the holiday “in accord with their own desires.” Yes, despite the falseness of it, they prefer it this way. Not only that but, despite the commercialization of the holiday, they still prefer it this way. That is why on New Year’s Day, 1953, the Washington Post said in its leading editorial:
“The American Christmas has become commercialized to an extent that is shocking to many foreigners and that almost transforms it into a national orgy of sentimental materialism. But there also remains the fact that it is not merely the manufacturers and advertisers, but the great part of the American people, who prefer to have it this way.”
Like the Israelites who tolerated religious falsehoods and abominations for what selfish gain they could derive from false stories, so are the Christmas celebrants who not only tolerate but prefer the hoax of Christ’s birthday party. So well might Jesus point to the words of Jehovah: “An awful and appalling thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy by false gods, and the priests make profit through them; my people love to have it so.”—Jer. 5:30, 31, AT.
There is more that Jesus would say of December 25: namely, that it has a profound pagan significance. And history clearly bears this out. The pagans celebrated the birthday of the Persian god Mithras on December 25. And on or about December 25 another big pagan celebration took place. This was the Saturnalia, held in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. At this celebration people paraded through the streets singing; candles were lit and placed in the windows of homes. People exchanged presents and everyone feasted and visited with friends. These pagan customs, historians admit, are the real bases for the December 25 celebration.
NO COMMAND TO COMMEMORATE BIRTHDAYS
What would Jesus say to those professed Christians who try to justify Christmas in spite of its false date and pagan background? He would say that he never commanded it, that his birthday was never celebrated by any of his apostles or early disciples, that it was only after the foretold apostasy that the Christmas celebration came into existence among professed Christians. This apostasy was foretold by Christ’s apostle, who said that it would result in “twisted things.” “I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things.” (Acts 20:29, 30, NW) Not until the fourth century did the Christmas celebration gain headway among professed Christians. By then the apostasy had taken place, a pagan holiday was clothed in a Christian name and the Roman Catholic Church gave the holiday its blessing—all to increase the number of nominal adherents to Christianity.
Not concerning the celebration of his birthday did Jesus say: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” It was said concerning the memorial of his death, an event far more vital to mankind than Jesus’ birth. Thus Jesus, commanding his followers to keep the memorial of his death instead of his birth, followed the Scriptural principle: “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.” And so it is that in the Bible birthdays are celebrated only by pagans. Pharaoh’s birthday, mentioned at Genesis 40:20, and Herod’s birthday, at Matthew 14:6-10, were both blackened by murderous executions. Christians are not commanded to observe any holiday: “But now that you have come to know God, or rather now that you have come to be known by God, how is it that you are turning back again to the weak and inadequate elementary things and want to be slaves to them over again? You are scrupulously observing days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that somehow I have toiled to no purpose respecting you.”—Luke 22:19, NW; Eccl. 7:8, AS; Gal. 4:9-11, NW.
And what would Jesus say of all the prominence given to “three” wise men on Christmas cards and decorations? He would ask why all the honor is given them, for the wise men were astrologers or demon worshipers. God’s law emphatically condemns astrologers. (Deut. 4:19; 2 Ki. 17:16; Isa. 47:13, 14) Since the slaying of the many young boys was associated with the trip of the astrologers, it is not logical that God led them to Jesus. If not God, then who did? It must have been Satan the Devil, for no light in the sky of natural origin could direct the astrologers. Satan used the “star” to guide the astrologers in his scheme to locate Jesus for destruction by Herod.
CHRIST A KING, NOT A BABE
What would Jesus say of the endless portrayal of him as an infant? He would say that he no longer is an infant, so why cause people to think of him as a babe? Viewing Jesus only as a babe is dangerous. It diverts one from the vital fact that he has been empowered by his Father as King and that he now reigns and will shortly smash all nations with a rod of iron as he “carries on war in righteousness.” Should a world-smashing King, indeed, the “King of kings and Lord of lords,” be thought of as a babe? Thus the focusing of the people’s attention on Jesus as an infant is a deception, a deception perpetrated by that master Deceiver, Satan the Devil.—Rev. 19:11-16, NW.
And what would Jesus say of the Christmas celebrants themselves? Does their conduct honor Christ? In one sweeping statement Jesus could answer, quoting the prophecy concerning the “last days” in which there will be “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” Christmas time spawns an overabundance of these. Not only that but at Christmas time many celebrants, like the ancient pagans, hurtle into the sullied seas of overdrinking, overeating and immorality. Christ’s commandments for a Christian allow no room at any time for turning back to the ways of the old world, much less at an occasion supposedly held to honor Christ. “The time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will of the nations when you proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and idolatries.”—2 Tim. 3:1-4; 1 Pet. 4:3, NW.
Just what would Jesus say of the Christmas customs, the use of holly, mistletoe, Yule logs and Christmas trees? He would state the candid facts, just as the encyclopedias do: that such customs are not Christian practices but are of heathen origin.
What would Jesus say about giving presents? Certainly Jesus would not condemn giving; he commended it as a source of happiness. Yet the exchanging of gifts, as it is done at Christmas, would not receive Jesus’ approval, for the giving is patterned after the exchanging of gifts during the pagan Saturnalia. Also, most Christmas giving is done on a reciprocal basis; Christ said to give to those who cannot repay you. And the Bible does not, as some think, set the pattern for gift exchanging. Who brought gifts to Jesus? None other than the demon-worshiping astrologers! Certainly Christians are not to follow their example. Nor need Christians await a pagan holiday to display a benevolent kindness that they should practice 365 days a year.
And what would Jesus say of teeming celebrants whose excitement does not conceal their ignorance, their lack of knowledge of the kingdom that Christ preached as the hope of the world? He would say that the people are too busy to learn the way to life and Christmas only makes them that much busier. So Jesus would say just what he did at Luke 17:26, 27 (NW): “Just as it occurred in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of man: they were eating, they were drinking, men were marrying, women were being given in marriage, until that day when Noah entered into the ark, and the flood arrived and destroyed them all.” Nothing wrong with these pursuits, but the trouble is people busy themselves so deeply in them, especially at Christmas time, eating, drinking and buying, that they have no room in their lives for knowledge of God’s purposes through his Son. And so ignorance of the oncoming war of Armageddon and of the incoming new world remains widespread.
So what would Christ say of Christmas? That Christmas is a religious hoax, a commercial trap, a pagan holiday, a dishonor to him and a degrading of Christianity. He could never approve it; he could never recognize it as a true Christian practice. That means that those who celebrate it come under Christ’s disapproval. That being the case, why celebrate Christmas? Why not be free of this colossal commercial snare? No need to celebrate because other professed Christians do! Indeed, there is no need to be among those teeming professed Christians whom, despite their protests of doing works in Christ’s name, the King refuses to recognize:
“Many will say to me in that day: ‘Master, Master, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you at all. Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.” So that you never have to get away from Christ then, get away from Christmas now.—Matt. 7:22, 23, NW.