Christmas is the day that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. No on really knows when he was born, though there is much speculation on the issue. But, December 25th is the day most Christians remember his birth. The fact is that even the enemies of Christianity claimed that Christ lived, and that he performed miracles! Early Jewish documents such as the Mishnah and even Josephus, as well as first-century Gentile historians such as Thallus, Serapion, and Tacitus, all testify that the one called Christ lived in
and died under Pontius Pilate. As the British scholar, F. F. Bruce put it, “The historicity of Christ is as [certain]. . . as the historicity of Julius Caesar” (NT Documents, 119). Palestine
My point is this: since Jesus lived, then Jesus was born! The Gospel of Matthew tell us that his birth was shortly before Herod the Great died (Matthew 2:19). Herod's death can be fixed with certainty. Josephus records an eclipse of the moon just before Herod passed on. This occurred on March 12th or 13th in 4 B.C. Josephus also tells us that Herod expired just before Passover. This feast took place on April 11th, in the same year, 4 B.C. From other details supplied by Josephus, we can pinpoint Herod the Great's demise as occurring between March 29th and April 4th in 4 B.C.
Likely it sounds strange to suggest that Jesus Christ was born no later than 4 B.C. since B.C. means before Christ. But our modern calendar which splits time between B.C. and A.D. was not invented until A.D. 525. At that time, Pope John I asked a monk named Dionysius to prepare a standardized calendar for the western Church. Unfortunately, poor Dionysius missed the real B.C./A.D. division by at least four years!
Matthew tells us that Herod killed
's babies two years old and under. The earliest Jesus could have been born, therefore, is 6 B.C. Through a variety of other time indicators, we can be relatively confident that the Messiah was born in either late 5 or early 4 B.C. Bethlehem
The birth of Christ is the most important events in human history. So important in fact, that the timeline of history is divided by it - B.C. abbreviated for “Before Christ” and A.D. abbreviated for the two Latin words Anno Domini (meaning in the year of our Lord). This was no ordinary birth and it changed human history forever. Even a complete skeptic like H.G. Wells, a professional historian and science fiction writer who made no profession of Christianity, admitted in his Outline of History, “More than 1900 years later, a historian like myself, who doesn’t even call himself a Christian, finds the picture [of history] centering irresistibly around the life and character of this most significant man.…” The True Celebration of Christmas focuses the birth of Emmanuel (God with us). You can read about all the related facts surrounding the Savior’s birth in the Gospels of Matthew (1:18-2:11) and Luke (1:26-56, 67-75, 2:4-40). But what was the purpose of Christ’s birth? We read in 1 John 4:14 “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” Why do we need a Savior? The birth of Christ was necessary because all people are lost sinners (Romans 3:23). God gave His Son Jesus a body so that so that he could pay for our sins by offering of His own body (Hebrews 10:5 & 10; 1 Peter 2:24; Colossians 2:13-14). If you have never received Jesus Christ as your Savior, do it today! “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23.