While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. Luke 2:6
For centuries Christians have celebrated Christmas on December 25. However, we do not know if that is the actual date of Jesus’ birth. The Bible does not list that date. Scholars have proposed numerous ideas for the origin of December 25. Some say early Christians believed that Jesus was born on that day. Others say Christians chose that day to counter a pagan festival. However, no one knows for sure the exact date of Jesus’ birth.
Nevertheless, we know Jesus’ birth to be a historical reality, not a fairytale or myth. The Son of God entered real human history. Luke tells us that Mary gave birth to Jesus while she and Joseph were in Bethlehem (Luke 2:6). According to Luke, they had gone there in obedience to Caesar Augustus’ decree. God’s angels testified to it, and the shepherds saw it with their own eyes (Luke 2:8-16). God provided these reliable witnesses to show that his Son indeed entered our world.
What is more, we know the reason the Son of God became man and entered our world. Standing before Pontius Pilate, Jesus said, “The reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth” (John 18:37). The truth is that all people are sinful by nature and sin against God in their thoughts, words, and actions. We all do those things that we should not do, and we fail to do those things that we should do. We all deserve eternal punishment. We all need a Savior.
We also know that Jesus is that Savior. Galatians 4:4-5 states: “When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” According to God’s plan, Jesus was born of Mary so that he could live under God’s law perfectly for us. He also shared in our humanity so that he could pour out his lifeblood to atone for our sins.
No, we do not know the exact date of Jesus’ birth. Nevertheless, we can praise God on December 25 and every day for sending a Savior, his Son.
Lord God, thank you for sending your Son into this fallen world to redeem us from sin. Let this true and certain news be our joy and strength on every day of the year. Amen.
Rev. Brian Hennig serves Martin Luther College as a professor of theology and social sciences.