How do you like my new Christmas Theme? I thought it was pretty festive! A good way to start the “Countdown to Christmas” here on Journey Thoughts.
My friend, Kathy Howard, a fantastic author and women’s Bible Study leader, gave us a quiz in class several years ago about “How Well Do You Know the Christmas Story?” I have kept the handout and I’ve added a few more questions of my own that I challenge you to answer without using your Bibles or the internet. (I’ll supply the answers and scripture references at the end of this post.) You will likely discover as you piece together the “facts” about Jesus’ birth that what we socially accept is mostly Hollywood glamorization and blatant commercialism that does not align itself with Scripture at all. So, how well DO YOU know the Story of Jesus’ Birth? Share if you dare :)
1. As long as Christmas has been celebrated, it has been on December 25th? True or False
2. Joseph was from:
- None of the above
3. Who insisted that Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem?
- The Angel
- Mary’s mother
- Caesar Augustus
- Alexander the Great
- no one told them to go
4. How did Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem?
- Joseph walked, Mary rode a donkey
- Who knows?
5. Mary and Joseph were married when Mary became pregnant? True or False
6. Mary and Joseph were married before Jesus was born? True or False
7. Mary was a virgin when she delivered Jesus? True or False
8. What did the innkeeper tell Mary and Joseph?
- There is no room at the inn
- I have a stable you can use
- Come back after the Christmas rush
- None of the above
9. Jesus was delivered in a:
10. A manger is a:
- stable for domestic animals
- wooden hay storage bin
- feeding trough
11. According to the Bible, which animals were present at Jesus’ birth?
- cows, sheep, goats
- cows, donkeys, sheep
- miscellaneous barnyard animals
- lions, tigers and bears
- we don’t know
12. Who saw the star in the east?
- Mary and Joseph
- Magi (aka Wise Men)
- both shepherds and Magi
- none of the above
13. What “sign” did the angels tell the shepherds to look for?
- A star over Bethlehem
- A baby that doesn’t cry
- A baby in a stable
- A baby lying in a manger
- None of the above
14. What is a “heavenly host”?
- The angel at the gate of Heaven
- The angel who invites people to Heaven
- An angel choir
- An angel army
- None of the above
15. What did the heavenly host of angels say?
- Joy to the World
- Unto us a child is born
- Glory to God in the highest
16. Did the baby Jesus cry?
- He never cried
- He cried just like other babies
- He cried when the little drummer boy banged his drum
17. We Three Kings of Orient Are…Who were they?
- Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar
- Astrologers, Seers, Fortune tellers
- Scholars from Persia
- Royal Astronomers
- We’re not 100% sure
18. How many Magi came to see Jesus?
- Probably less than 10
- We don’t know for sure, but there were probably dozens in their entourage
19. Where did the Magi find Jesus?
- in the manger
- in the stable
- in an inn
- in a house
20. Which Gospels give details about Christ’s Birth so we can answer these questions and get the TRUE facts?
- Matthew and Mark
- Matthew and Luke
- Matthew, Mark and Luke
- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
1. False. For the church’s first three centuries, Christmas wasn’t in December—or on the calendar at all. If observed at all, the celebration of Christ’s birth was usually lumped in with Epiphany (January 6), one of the church’s earliest established feasts. Some church leaders even opposed the idea of a birth celebration. Origen (c.185-c.254) preached that it would be wrong to honor Christ in the same way Pharaoh and Herod were honored. Birthdays were for pagan gods.
Not all of Origen’s contemporaries agreed that Christ’s birthday shouldn’t be celebrated, and some began to speculate on the date (actual records were apparently long lost). Clement of Alexandria (c.150-c.215) favored May 20 but noted that others had argued for April 18, April 19, and May 28. Hippolytus (c.170-c.236) championed January 2. November 17, November 20, and March 25 all had backers as well. A Latin treatise written around 243 pegged March 21, because that was believed to be the date on which God created the sun. Polycarp (c.69-c.155) had followed the same line of reasoning to conclude that Christ’s birth and baptism most likely occurred on Wednesday, because the sun was created on the fourth day.
The eventual choice of December 25, made perhaps as early as 273, reflects a convergence of Origen’s concern about pagan gods and the church’s identification of God’s son with the celestial sun. December 25 already hosted two other related festivals: natalis solis invicti (the Roman “birth of the unconquered sun”), and the birthday of Mithras, the Iranian “Sun of Righteousness” whose worship was popular with Roman soldiers. The winter solstice, another celebration of the sun, fell just a few days earlier. Seeing that pagans were already exalting deities with some parallels to the true deity, church leaders decided to commandeer the date and introduce a new festival.
Western Christians first celebrated Christmas on December 25 in 336, after Emperor Constantine had declared Christianity the empire’s favored religion. Eastern churches, however, held on to January 6 as the date for Christ’s birth and his baptism.
2. Joseph was from Bethlehem (Luke 2:4)
3. Caesar Augustus decreed that a census be taken and all people return to their places of birth. (Luke 2:1)
4. Who knows? The Bible does not say anything about a donkey. Luke 2:4 simply tells us that Joseph and Mary went from Nazareth to Galilee. Many biblical scholars think that because of their economic status they probably both walked but that is just speculation.
5. False, Joseph and Mary were not married when she became pregnant. (Luke 2:5, Matthew 1:18-25).
6. True. Joseph and Mary were married before she gave birth to Jesus. (Matthew 1:24)
7. True. Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. (Matthew 1:25) However, she did not remain a virgin after Jesus’ birth. Scripture tells us that Jesus had brothers and sisters after He was born. (Matthew 13:55) Read a great article on this topic here: http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-siblings.html
8. None of the above. The Bible does not say any words spoken by the inn keeper. In fact, Luke does not even mention an inn keeper, merely an inn and the fact that there was no room. (Luke 2:7). To get really specific, there is also no mention of a stable.
9. Unknown. Just like no words being recorded by the innkeeper, there is no mention where Mary delivered Jesus. Matthew says Jesus was born in Bethlehem and Luke 2:7 says Mary gave birth to Him and laid him in a manger.
10. A feeding trough for animals. Perhaps it was this fact alone that has brought about the popular assumption that Jesus was born in a stable or barn because of a manger being close at hand to put the Baby in. Using deductive reasoning, culture has also determined that if there is a feeding trough, there must also be animals nearby. Countless Nativity or crèche scenes depict that as fact. It is merely speculation and assumption. Scripture doesn’t back up those theories in any way.
11. We don’t know. There is no mention of animals of any kind around Jesus after His birth. Refer to my explanation #10.
12. The Magi. The star is only mentioned in conjunction with the Magi. They told Herod they had seen the star. (Matthew 2:2)
13. The sign the angels told the shepherds to look for was a baby lying in a manger. (Luke 2:12)
14. A Heavenly Host (Hebrew Sabaoth “armies”) refers to a large angel army (Luk.2:13; Rev.19:19).
15. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)
16. Absolutely the Baby Jesus cried! Baby Jesus was fully human. He cried when He was hungry, tired, wet, and in pain just like any other baby. (Hebrews 2:14)
17. We’re not 100% sure. Matthew 2:1-12 reveals nothing of these visitors’ ancestry. Over the centuries, legend has assigned them names: Gaspar, or Casper; Melchior, and Balthasar. Balthsar has a Persian sound. If indeed these men were scholars from Persia, they would have been familiar with Daniel’s prophecy about the Messiah or “Anointed One.” (Daniel 9:24-27). The designation “Magi” refers to a Persian religious caste, but when this gospel was written, the term was loosely used for astrologers, seers, and fortune tellers. Matthew does not call them kings; that title was used later, in legends. They may have been royal astronomers, advisers to kings. http://christianity.about.com/od/newtestamentpeople/a/Three-Kings.htm
18. We don’t know for sure. The Bible does not tell us how many Magi visited Jesus. The tradition of “3” probably developed because they presented 3 kinds of gifts. According to scholars the Magi’s journey probably lasted up to two years with an entourage of dozens or more people.
19. Sorry to wreck your Nativity scenes, but the Magi were not present the night Jesus was born. Scriptural evidence shows Jesus could have been as old as two by the time they arrived. If that is true then Jesus, Mary, and Joseph would have been staying in a house. (Matthew 2:11)
20. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke give us all the details of Jesus’ Birth.