Jesus Without Christmas
This is the awkward time of year for Messianic believers. Many of us have opted out of Christmas, something our families and friends do not understand. It is inconceivable that anyone who professes faith in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) would not celebrate Christmas. It is inconceivable even though December 25th is most definitely not the day of Yeshua’s birth, and even though the customs observed in churches and homes have their origins in decidedly un-Christian pagan celebrations. Our protestations of allegiance to Yeshua seem to fall on deaf ears. All that our loved ones seem to understand is that we have embraced Judaism because we have turned our backs on Christmas and started celebrating the “Jewish” feasts. This is so no matter how many times we try to explain that we are not Jewish, that the Feasts of the Lord are all about Yeshua, and that we are actually returning to the things God told us to do from the beginning.
It would be nice to know what our family and friends are thinking, but we rarely get the chance to ask. Therefore we are left to wonder, to assume, to guess, and to remember Yeshua’s words: “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” (Mark 6:4 NASB)
The silence is the most difficult thing to bear. What are they really thinking? Do they hate us for turning away from time-honored traditions? Do they believe us when we say we love Jesus? Do they see how we live out our love for Him by keeping His commandments? If only they would say something . . .
And then they do. Someone we love very much recently asked why we do not celebrate Christmas. Here is our answer:
Since we have started learning about the significance of God’s calendar, the old traditions that we followed all our lives just don’t hold any fascination for us anymore. When we were keeping the traditional Christian celebrations of Christmas and Easter, we never guessed that we were just getting a small portion of the full truth. There’s so much more that He has revealed of Himself in the feasts of Trumpets, Tabernacles, Passover, and all the rest. Through those Appointed Times we have learned far more about why Yeshua is the Messiah, why He is God Himself, how and why He did things the way they were done, and our full identity in Him. For all its hype and happiness and tradition, Christmas is honestly just a pale shadow.
The journey for me began when I was a teenager. That’s when I started looking for the biblical foundation of all I had been taught in my Baptist and Presbyterian upbringing. When I asked about Christmas, people I respected pointed me to Luke 2. Yet my search there and elsewhere in the scriptures never turned up anything that could support the tradition of Christmas. I didn’t find the answer until I started looking in a different direction in 2002. That’s when the Lord began to open my eyes to the pagan nature of many of the things we did in the church.
My wife soon came to the same understanding, and together we researched the truth of these matters. She reminds me that truth tends to offend. When she started looking into this, she was highly offended to find out the truth about Christmas, so she had to do some honest soul-searching and put her offenses aside for the sake of learning God’s truth.
Together we have come to realize that we never did intentionally bow down to idols, honor false gods, or mix the holy things of the Lord God with the common or profane things of our pagan ancestors. However, we discovered that that’s how God sees it, and that’s what grieves God’s heart. He doesn’t want us to worship Him in the way people worship false gods (Deuteronomy 12:4). Now that we have been exposed to the roots of these Christian traditions, we have had to decide what to do with the knowledge. We could choose to ignore what we have learned and continue on with Christmas, Easter, Sunday worship, and other traditions, but we would know in our hearts that we would be doing things in ways that don’t please the God we profess to serve. That, in essence, is why we don’t celebrate Christmas.
There’s much I could explain about the pagan origins of the holiday, and if you want to delve into it the best presentations we have encountered are from 119 Ministries. Their Sunburned series is a two-hour teaching that covers the whole subject. You can access them here:
If you want a much shorter introduction, see their two-minute teaching, “Let The Christmas Trees Rejoice” (http://119ministries.com/let-the-christmas-trees-rejoice).
The bottom line is that our church fathers long ago made a deliberate decision to turn away from the Feasts of the Lord and find a way to keep their pagan traditions while professing faith in Jesus Christ. That’s why you won’t find Christmas anywhere in the Bible. Oh, the accounts of Yeshua’s birth are indeed there in Matthew and Luke, but clearly those events did not happen at the festival we call Christmas. (It’s possible that the Magi visited the infant Messiah on or about December 25th, but that’s not the time of His birth.) If you want a summary of when Yeshua was really born, check out my paper “Silent Night in September”. The birth of our Lord happened as did everything else of significance about Him, on God’s Appointed Times. Specifically, He was born during the High Holy Days in the fall, most likely at the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashana), which is the same time that He will return (“at the last trumpet”).
It is exciting that you are looking into this, and we are glad to help in any way. As you take a look at the Feasts of the Lord, you will see Messiah Yeshua right at the center of them all. We are confident that as you continue your search with open and honest hearts, and as you begin to celebrate the holy times of our King, your lives will be blessed far more than you can guess.