Debunking 6 Christmas Myths

The Christmas story is wonderful isn't it? However, over the decades Christians have taken a lot of creative liberties with the Christmas story adding details that the Scripture either denies or does not state. The birth narratives of Jesus are found in Matthew and Luke, with Luke 2 as the go to text for the Christmas story. After all, it is the one Linus quotes for Charlie Brown. In this post, I figured I’d spread the Christmas cheer and help clear up some confusion and debunk 6 Christmas myths that many people believe.

1. Mary Rode on a Camel to Bethlehem

When we think about Mary and Joseph traveling to Jerusalem we often think about a lone couple in the wilderness with Mary on the back of a camel. Mary could have very well have ridden a camel, but the text doesn’t say. She might have had to walk the entire 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It probably would have been a 4 - 7 day journey. It is also unlikely that Mary and Joseph would have traveled alone. Especially since many people would be traveling to their home tomes due to the census, they probably joined a caravan of people heading towards Bethlehem. Their was safety in numbers as you traveled so Mary and Joseph probably did not make the trip solo.

2. The Innkeeper was Rude to Mary and Joseph

One character who makes it into every Christmas play is the Inn Keeper. He is often portrayed as a wealthy business man who kicks out the pregnant woman to the barn to sleep. He is sometimes presented as cruel, sometimes he is shown as disappointed he could not do more to help Mary and Joseph. The only problem is that there is not a single inn keeper mentioned in the Scriptures. I’m sure they might have talked to a few, but we don’t know. It is likely that the young couple would have stayed with a distant relative of Joseph. The word “inn” in the greek can also be translated “guest room”. The young couple might have not stayed at an innkeepers stable at all, but a stable of one of Joseph’s distant relatives. The Gospels really do not give us a lot of information surrounding the detail of Jesus’ birth. Which is why many have created elaborate back stories to the birth narrative.

3. There are only 3 Wise Men

When we think of the Wise Men we often think of three of them riding on their camels with their flamboyant Flavor Flav jewelry. The reason we typically think of them as three is because the wise men presented three different gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The Catholic church even goes on to name the three magi as Balthasar, Caspar, and Melchior. Despite the traditional depiction of three wise men, the Scripture again doesn’t specify. All we know is that there are more than one. There could have been two or their could have been ten. Scripture does not say.

4. The Wise Men Saw the Birth of Christ

I seriously got into a fight with a girl in the third grade over this myth. She swore up and down that the wise men were there the night Jesus was born. This one is going to ruin your wonderfully quaint nativity scene on your mantel, but I hate the break it to you – the wise men were not there. The Gospel of Matthew describes the wise men arriving at a house where Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus were. They likely arrived when Jesus was one or two years old. Yet, in our nativity scenes we have the three wise men hanging out on their camels with the shepherds. So go to your nativity scene and take your wise men figures and move them to the other side of the room. Nice! Now your nativity scene is historically accurate!

5. X-Mas is Kicking Christ out of Christmas

Christians get very upset when you write X-mas. I saw a church sign this past week that rebuked the community for saying X-Mas. Yet, writing X-Mas is not kicking out Christ from Christmas. In greek the first letter of the word “Christ” (Χριστός) is the greek letter Chi which looks almost identical to an english “X”. X-Mas is just an abbreviation for Christ. It is perfectly legitimate to tweet “Merry X-Mas” and not be considered a heretic.

6. The Little Drummer Played His Drum

I don’t know if anyone actually believes the Little Drummer boy is a real character, but he is not. It is one of our modern additions to the Christmas story. It makes for a cool song, but the Little Drumer boy is a work of fiction. Besides, if I were Joseph I’d beat that Little Drummer boy tail for waking up the newborn baby with his loud “Rump-a-pum pumping”. Seriously? This kid must have zero manners.

Any Christmas Myths I Missed? Do you or your friends believe any of these myths? If so share with us in the comments!

5 Ways to Have a Christ-Centered Christmas

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Don't have a Christ-less Christmas. As Christians we must keep Jesus in the center of everything we do. In our increasingly consumerism-driven understanding of Christmas, we must fight the current of culture and commit to making much of Jesus during this time. However, you might ask yourself the question? How do I have a Christ-Centered Christmas? Well here are five extremely practical ways you can lift up the name of Jesus this Christmas:

1. Go to a Christmas Eve Service

Christmas Eve Services are awesome. They are always one of my favorite church services of the year. Make it a priority to take your family to one this Christmas. If you are out of town visiting family, find a local church and visit them for their Christmas eve service. It is a great way to usher your heart and soul into worship before Christmas day by praising our gracious God who put on flesh for you and for me.

2. Invite a neighbor over for Christmas Dinner

One of the ways we can honor Christ is by reaching out to those around us. As Christians we are ambassadors for Christ, and what a better time to be an ambassador than at Christmas time? Schedule a night to have that family down the street over for dinner. Share with them about who Jesus is and why God sent him for us. Share the Gospel with them. Not only does it honor Christ at Christmas, but it spread the Gospel to those who so desperately need to hear it!

3. Read the Christmas Story Together as a Family

As a family, sit down and read the Birth Narrative of Jesus in Luke 1-2. It is a great time to spend some time in the Scriptures and foster family worship. I know many families that will do this first thing on Christmas morning, before opening presents and before the busyness of the day. The family will gather by the tree and Pastor Dad will lead the family in scripture reading and prayer. Dads, make a priority to start this tradition with your family. It is a great way to disciple your children and keep Christ in the center of your home.

4. Skip the Gift Exchange this Year

What? Are you serious? Skip the gift exchange? I know, I know. That is exactly what you are thinking. There is nothing wrong or sinful about giving gifts to one another at Christmas time, however I think everyone can admit that it does distract us from honoring Christ. So often the thing that Christmas Day centers on is the getting of stuff. It is a travesty and poison that American Marketers have been telling us for decades. How about one year, maybe this year, you take a fast from the gift giving as a family? Maybe take the money that you would spend on Christmas Gifts and give it away? This is something I have been praying about in my own family. Kaitlyn and I are not planning on doing much gift exchanging this year with one another, but we want to give generously to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which goes to fund and support all of our Southern Baptist Missionaries over seas. Maybe we should do something a little radical this Christmas and be counter cultural for the name of Jesus.

5. Volunteer and Serve Others

At this Christmas time, why not keep Christ at the center by serving others? After all, "even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). Imitate your savior this Christmas and honor him by giving of your time to serve other people. Get your eyes off of yourself and onto this dying world who needs you to show them Christ with your words and your actions.

Christmas is busy. It is so easy to get distracted by the next Christmas party you have to attend or the next Christmas show you need to watch. Don't let the busyness of Christmas distract you from keeping Christ at the center of your life and your worship. As Christians we must keep Christ the center of our lives in every season, not just in December, but this Christmas may we seek to lift high the name of Jesus for the whole world to see! The King has come. The savior is born. What great and glorious news!

What are some ways your family keeps Christ at the center of Christmas? Share with us in the comments!