Five Misconceptions About Christmas

1. Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem the night she would give birth to Jesus. 

Our nativity plays often portray the story as so but in actuality we don’t know this for sure to be true. It is quite possible that the couple arrived in Bethlehem weeks, even months, before she was due (Luke 2:1-7).

2. There was no room in the inn.

We actually don’t know if there even was an inn in Bethlehem.

According to Ben Witherington III, we have no archaeological evidence of this claim nor do we have reason to think there would be an inn in such a small town. Witherington believes that the word kataluma which we’ve commonly translated as inn actually is referring to a guest room. Because of the census decreed by the Roman emperor Augustus, it is likely that Joseph and Mary returned to his home town and stayed awhile with family as did many of his relatives.

3. Jesus was born in a stable.

Again, the gospels never mention this. We simply have believed this because Luke records that Mary laid baby Jesus in a manger (2:7). The reality is that this could’ve taken place in a cave or a barn among other venues.

4. Jesus was born on December 25th.

The likeliness of Jesus being December at all is highly improbable. It is more likely that He was born in Spring, Summer or Fall because the shepherds were in the field at night (2:8). Shepherds did not typically do this in Winter due to the cold conditions.

5. Three wisemen or kings came to visit Jesus at his birth.

  1. We actually don’t know how many wisemen there were. This has simply been assumed because Matthew lists three separate gifts that were presented to Jesus (Matt 2:1-12).
  2. These wisemen were likely astrologers due to their insight into the stars (2:2 & 10).
  3. It is likely that these wisemen did not arrive to see Jesus until He was much older, namely because when they arrived in Jerusalem inquiring about Jesus, it is evident that He has already been born (2:2). Also, because Herod decided to have all the boys two years and younger killed in order to have Jesus killed (2:16), we can assume that he, too, didn’t think Jesus was a baby anymore.

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