You might be surprised by how many assumptions about Christmas that we accept as absolute truth. The first time I became aware of this phenomenon is when a pastor challenged the widely accepted assumption that the wise men were three kings who showed up at the manger on the night Christ was born. That idea has been culturally ingrained into us and the imagery is hard to shake. But that idea is false. Matthew clearly tells us, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.'” –Matthew 2:1-2, NASB.
Notice that the second word is, “Now AFTER Jesus was born in Bethlehem,” and notice that there is no mention of how many magi there were. Three wise men is a tradition that developed, but nothing in the Bible confirms it and it is more likely historically that there were more. It is also assumed that they were from Persia, but in the first century the Parthians ruled that region. I go into more detail in my book about who the magi were and where they were from, but clearly the entire narrative about the magi occurs after Jesus is born–not before or during–and there are a lot of other assumptions that similarly seem true, but are not, because the messaging has been so powerful.
Here’s a short list of a few other assumptions that 500 Year Journey challenges:
- The Star of Bethlehem did NOT move like glowing orb which then hovered over the manger. Nor was there only one event they saw.
- The magi were not kings, but rather they were astronomers/astrologers. However, they did not use astrology to determine when Christ was born.
- Joseph and Mary most likely arrived in Bethlehem weeks before Jesus was born. Finding lodging wasn’t a last minute emergency.
- Jesus wasn’t born in 1 BC or AD 1. Our entire calendar is based on a mistaken interpretation made by the early church fathers.
But the big assumption that 500 Year Journey challenges is the assumption that the Bible does not tell us when Jesus was born. I believe it does. People have assumed that it doesn’t and so it is easy to accept December 25 as the date, even if we kind of also know that it isn’t the actual date. Therefore (as the reasoning goes), since the true date can’t be known, it doesn’t matter when we celebrate Christ’s birth and so December 25 is as good as any other option. I have addressed this topic in a previous post. See also “Walking The Tightrope.”
However, I have come to believe that God’s law has told us the precise month and day when he would be born, and prophecy has told us the precise year (although it is not expressed in BC/AD nomenclature, of course).
And yet the book doesn’t merely target mistaken assumptions that have accumulated over the centuries, it also amplifies the truths about the incarnation that have withstood the test of time and transcends mere tradition:
- Jesus is the Son of God; God in the flesh;
- Jesus is the son of man; the Messiah born of the line of David;
- Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and his birth was attested to by angels, shepherds, Simeon, and Anna.
- Jesus came to serve, not to be served, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
The miracle of his birth and when it was has been a grand puzzle that has been debated for millennia and I know my claim sounds audacious, but please give the evidence a hearing. The miracle at Christ’s birth is more than our assumptions have ever allowed us to believe before, and my prayer is that you will be as blessed and as amazed as the magi were.
Countdown Special: 20% off
In anticipation of the release of 500 Year Journey on Tuesday, September 12, I am reducing the price for everyone by 20% on signed copies of my book. Also, if you register your email, you will get a code for free shipping. Please allow a few minutes for the email with the promo code to arrive after you register.
However, if you choose to not get a signed copy and to wait until after the book is officially released on September 12, let me recommend pre-ordering from Eighth Day Books in Wichita, KS. I strongly support local bookstores and I believe this is one of the best! I found many great historical and biblical resources here that I used during my research for my book, and you can look through their extensive catalog for many rare and scholarly resources yourself and get anything shipped right to you. Please check them out!
Otherwise, you can pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Shop, Sandman Books, Walmart, and Books-A-Million. If you are in the UK you can order from Eden. It would also be cool if you were to ask your favorite local bookstore to make copies available. Let them know soon! The release date is September 12.
I also have copies available for GROUP STUDIES at churches or community groups. If your church library would like to carry copies, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll work out the cost and details together. Thank you!
Rejoice in the Lord!
Click here to listen to my interview with Calvary Chapel pastor Nick Cady.