The First Christmas
Long ago…long before Walmart, Target, Macy’s or Kohl’s, the greatest Christmas celebration known to man occurred. There was no hype about the impending day of celebration. There was no extended period of shopping for gifts prior to the day of celebration. Black Friday shopping or Cyber Monday deals were nonexistent. No tree or festive decorations adorned the place for this celebration. This celebration was attended only by a carpenter from Jerusalem, his wife who was expecting a child, and a few local shepherds. The shepherds had received their invitation to the party from an angel. Yes, this celebration was the very first Christmas. It marked the birth of Jesus, the long prophesied Messiah and savior of the world.
This party didn’t happen in a beautiful home or an exquisite banquet hall. Instead, the celebration was in a stable meant for animals. It is amazing that the greatest Christmas party in the history of man was such an unpublicized and humble party. The baby born that night was a direct gift from God. The gift God gave that night would change the world forever. It was and still is the greatest Christmas gift ever given or received.
There Was No Gift Exchange
There were no other gifts exchanged or received the night of Jesus’ birth . Christmas plays and nativity scenes don’t depict the actual scene. They portray there being three wise men from the east bearing gifts that night to the baby Jesus. The truth of the matter is there were no wise men offering gifts that night. Tradition has always suggested that there were three wise men, probably because there were three gifts. The gifts were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The Bible does not tell us how many wise men were involved…it could have been a hundred as far as we know. The Gospel of Matthew says these visitors came from “the east.” Bible scholars have speculated that they came from Persia, Arabia, or even India. The wise men recognized Jesus as the Messiah while he was still a child, and traveled thousands of miles to worship him. They followed a star which led them to Jesus. By the time they met Jesus, he was in a house and was a small child, not an infant, implying they arrived a year or more after his birth. So as you can see, it would have been impossible for the wise men to have been present at the manger when Jesus was born. The only gift offered that night was the baby that was born, which was Jesus.
Much has changed about the way Christmas is celebrated since that very first celebration over two thousand years ago. Pagan traditions, modern day materialism and the marketing schemes of retailers have distorted the celebration of Christmas. The first Christmas was all about God’s gift to mankind and worshiping God for his gift to man. The gift of Jesus that lay in a manger that night was actually God in the flesh, come to earth in the form of a baby. The prophet Isaiah foretold of the birth of Christ long before Jesus was born. Isaiah said, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14) The name Emmanuel means “God with us.”
Since that celebration long ago, mankind has sadly made the mistake of forgetting what the holiday is really about. Instead of worshiping the original Christmas giver, which is God, people tend to worship the gift itself. The material gifts we exchange at Christmas will soon lose their newness and their value, will often be forgotten. Try remembering what you were given for Christmas last year or the year before that. It is hard to remember, isn’t it? That is because the material gifts we give and receive do not make a life changing impact on our lives. I often wonder if people in today’s society exchange gifts at Christmas only because that is what is expected by Christmas tradition.
The True Spirit of Christmas
Please don’t get me wrong. I am not against the exchanging of gifts at Christmas. But, I believe if shopping and exchanging gifts is all our celebrating of Christmas means to us, we are seriously missing the true blessing of Christmas. True giving can be done all year long, and it does not have to be a material gift; even though it can be. True giving begins with a change in our hearts, and involves a giving of ourselves in hopes of helping someone and making their life better. That type of giving, blesses someone, and it blesses us. True giving changes lives, and lasts a lifetime. The original Christmas gift changed the lives of all mankind forever. When you accept the gift of Jesus that God gave to us that very first Christmas, it will change your life forever. Also, when you share Christ with someone else, their life will be forever changed. Jesus was the very first and very best Christmas gift ever given. Jesus was the gift that keeps on giving.
Thanks for reading!
Until next time,