nativity

The real account of Christmas gets lost or at least diminished among the secular craziness of the holiday. Busyness often overshadows the “reason for the season.” Even the real account of the birth of Jesus gets twisted and misunderstood. Here is a fun trivia drill to test how Christmas-smart you are:

Questions

1. T or F: Around 700 years before the birth of Jesus, God’s prophets wrote that He would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem and called Immanuel.

2. According to Jewish tradition, when were Joseph and Mary married?

3. What form of transportation did Mary and Joseph take from Nazareth to Bethlehem?

4. Who decided the baby would be named Jesus?

5. Was Jesus born in a stable among farm animals?

6. Was Jesus born in December?

7. Then, why do we celebrate His birthday on Dec. 25th?

8. What did the angels sing when announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds?

9. T or F: The wise men, or magi, visited the newborn Jesus in the manger and presented Him gifts.

10. How many wise men were there?

11. T or F: The accounts of Jesus’ birth are found in the first four books of the New Testament.

12. T or F: The star followed by the wise men has remained in the sky to this day and can be seen around Christmas.

Answers

1. T. Isaiah wrote that the Savior would be born of a virgin and called Immanuel. Micah wrote that He would be born in Bethlehem. Both wrote these prophecies more than seven centuries prior to Jesus’ birth.

2. In Jesus’ time, the Jews considered a couple to be married only after sexual intercourse. Before that, the couple would be “betrothed” for about a year. This betrothal was more than a modern day engagement. It was a contractual, but unconsummated, commitment to marriage. Since the union of Joseph and Mary was unconsummated until after the birth of Jesus, it was not until then that they were actually married.

3. No one knows. Yes, it could have been on a donkey as depicted in the paintings and movies, but it could have just as likely been by a cart drawn by oxen, on horseback, or on a camel.

4. The angel, Gabriel, instructed Mary to name Him Jesus. Later, the angel also told Joseph to call His name Jesus.

5. No one knows. The Bible says He was placed in a manger (animal food trough). There is no mention of a stable or of farm animals being present. Again, don’t assume the artists and song writers got it right.

6. Very unlikely. The shepherds who were in the fields with their sheep at the time of Jesus’ birth were only there in the spring through the fall. By December, the sheep would have been in a corral with available shelter from the cold. Considering other historical factors, most biblical scholars place His birth in what we know as September or October.

7. Christmas wasn’t recognized until the fourth century A.D. The Romans observed December 25th as a pagan solar celebration. Christian leaders began to attach the celebration of Jesus’ birth to that date, since it was already set aside for celebration anyway. The hope was that some unbelievers would become inquisitive about Jesus as they shared their day of celebration with the Christians.

8. Actually, the angels didn’t sing anything. We get that misunderstanding from Christmas carols. The announcement to the shepherds was spoken, and their praises were spoken. In fact, the Bible never depicts angels as singing.

9. F. Regardless of all the nativity scene characters, the wise men, or magi, didn’t arrive when the baby Jesus was in the manger. They came at least a month later and possibly as late as two years later. The Bible says they came into the house where Jesus and His mother were, not to a manger. After the magi told King Herod they had come in search of the new king of the Jews, the king had all Bethlehem children under the age of two killed. This was because Herod knew Jesus could be almost two at the time the magi came.

10. We can’t know for sure. The assumption of three comes from there being three gifts. However, it is not likely that only three would be traveling on such an important trip. And, they were almost certainly not kings as in the carol, We Three Kings.

11. F. Only Matthew and Luke recorded the birth of Jesus.

12. F. No one knows what the “star” actually was. Some astronomers suggest it was the confluence of two planets. Others believe it to have been a rare comet. Some think it was a miraculous bright light that moved at God’s will, since the Bibles says it stood over the place where the Child was.

Score

All correct = Wise man/woman

10 or more correct = Bible scholar

8 or more correct = Lover of the arts

7 or fewer correct = Yule know next time

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