true meaning of christmas

Unveil the powerful True meaning Of Christmas in the Bible

Christmas trees... Christmas presents... Santa Claus...

Almost everyone worldwide celebrates Christmas! Even pagans celebrate Christmas! But do you know the true meaning of Christmas? Do you know how Christmas began and why?

Christmas began with the birth of Jesus Christ.

Jesus came to earth to die for our sins, to redeem us, and to make us right with God.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" John 3:16

But wait! Who is Jesus? Isn't he a myth? Was Jesus a real person? Find out more HERE.

Jesus was a real person who was born in Bethlehem by a virgin. He grew up as a Jew in Nazareth, taught the people in Judea, was crucified, and died on the cross. Almost all academic scholars attest to the historicity of Jesus Christ.

You may be interested in reading what atheist scholars say about Jesus HERE.

So if Jesus is real, then when was he born?

Christmas is celebrated on December 25

We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25.
Was Jesus born on that day? If not, why December 25? Isn't it true that December 25 is linked to a pagan holiday?

You may be interested in reading the article, Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?

The word "Christmas" comprises the words "Christ" and "Mass" was coined by the Catholic Church. But Christmas was never celebrated - not until the 4th century. Because the Bible does not instruct Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Even the early Fathers did not even list Christmas as a festival to observe.

But eventually, over the years, Christmas, in the 1870s, became a festive holiday in the United States. The rest of the world followed.

You can read how Christmas became a popular festive season HERE.

So what is the biblical Christmas story?

The account of Jesus' birth was written in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.

It all began one starlit night..

Christ's Birth Announced to Mary

"Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary.

And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"

But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."

Luke 1:26-33


Prophet Nathan revealed this to King David..

"When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever."

2 Samuel 7:12-13

Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?"

Luke 1:34


Jesus came to fulfill the prophecy in the Old Testament

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel" Isaiah 7:14

"Immanuel" in Hebrew is translated as "God is with us"

Have you ever known of anyone who had a virgin birth? 

"And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible."

Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her." Luke 1:35-38

In those days, pregnancy out of wedlock was the most detestable thing in Jewish society. Adultery was punishable by death! It was not easy for a young woman to face the world with a baby born out of wedlock.

God chose Mary to undertake this very difficult and complex assignment, and yet, look at how she responded! She chose to obey and leave everything to God.

When facing our trials and difficulties, do we ever pause to check on our answers to God's will and calling? Do we ever submit everything to God? Are we willing to take on any challenges or difficult tasks that He would set for us to conquer?

If only we have faith and obedience like Mary.

Christ Born of Mary

"And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city."

Luke 2:1-3

Many skeptics have ridiculed the census story because of conflicting dates and the need for Joseph to travel to Bethlehem for the census. I will address the apparent contradictions in detail in another post. But for now, it is clear that Joseph, being a descendent of King David, grew up in Bethlehem. So it was right for Joseph and his wife, who was already pregnant, to travel to Bethlehem for the census.

So why was Joseph in Nazareth in the first place?

It is likely that Joseph was working from Nazareth as a carpenter for the re-building of a nearby Roman city, Sepphoris (about 6 km away from Nazareth). It was destroyed in 4 BC. This would also account for how both Joseph and Mary would have met.

However, we do not have any records of Joseph's life to confirm this story.

But we are confident that modern archeology will one day provide evidence to further prove the authenticity of the Bible. It has done so in the past to shut the mouths of skeptics. It will do so again soon.

"Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child"

Luke 2:4-5

Jesus came to fulfill the prophecy in the Old Testament

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah,out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."

Micah 5:2

As foretold, the messiah would be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah, or Bethlehem Judea. There are two cities called Bethlehems. One in Judea, known as Bethlehem Judea.

The other is in Galilee: Bethlehem Zebulun or Bethlehem Galilee. And many skeptics readily attacked the Bible again by saying that Jesus was born in Bethlehem Zebulun instead.

Joseph and Mary left Nazareth for Bethlehem (145 km) and the journey took about 1-2 weeks if on foot. The sheer distance may shock you when looking at it through our modern lenses. But in those days, it was common for people to travel long distances on foot or on an animal.

In Luke 1:39, we see Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth in the "hill countries of Judea", likely in the village of Ein Karem, 90 km from Nazareth. That would take about 10 days to travel one way! Again, Mary took that journey all by herself, when she was with child!

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

Matthew 1: 18-21

The name "Jesus" was derived from the Hebrew word Yeshua that means "to deliver; to rescue" or "the Lord is salvation",

"So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us." - anchor to above text -

Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus."

Matthew 1:22-24

Joseph was a righteous man. He knew that Mary was carriying jesus in her womb. He also knew that Jesus is Holy. Hence he refrained from sexual intimacy with Mary until Jesus was born. Note that Joseph had other children with Mary after that, like James, Jesus brother. James was an unbeliever until he was converted

"So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."

Luke 2:6-7

Joseph and Mary went from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register for the census because Bethlehem was Joseph's home town. Joseph would have likely visited his parents or relatives' home, but during the peak season, the guest house was full, so Mary had to share the use of the living room next to the stable for delivery.  Mary laid baby Jesus in the manger.

Below is a typical outline of the house where Mary would have stayed to give birth to Jesus. In those days, the stable was just next to the living room. There were also many other people staying in the house (which resembles our ONE-room apartment) as well.

true meaning of christmas

Glory in the Highest

"Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."

Luke 2:8-12

Skeptics had always ridiculed the biblical Christmas story as fictitious, stating that it would be impossible for shepherds to be herding their sheep in December because of the cold weather.

However, eyewitnesses have seen shepherds keeping watch over their sheep in December.  Moreover, December temperatures in Bethlehem are only mildly cold. So, the story of the shepherds and sheep out in the field during the winter is possible, and the critics have been silenced!

true meaning of christmas

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

"Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them."

Luke 2:13-20

The phrase "And all those who hear it marveled at those things" would definitely imply that there were other people staying in the house where Mary delivered baby Jesus. These people would know that this child is an exceptional child. Who are these people? We can only speculate.

Wise Men from the East

"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." 

Matthew 2:1-2

"I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth."

Numbers 24:17

Who were the wise men?

It is definitely not the three wise men as in the Christmas song "We Three Kings" but I believed there was likely a caravan of people who passed through Jerusalem. This would have "troubled" the residents of Jerusalem.

In the Hebrew text, these wise men were known as the magi and they were likely the wise men from Persia, followers of prophet Daniel who wrote about the coming of the messiah in Daniel 9:24-27.

Who then are the magi? We will address this in a future post.

"When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem was with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler, Who will shepherd My people Israel.' "

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also."

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was."

Matthew 2:3-9

Scholars and skeptics had many theories about the star of Bethlehem. However, I believe it was entirely supernatural; otherwise, the other Jewish intellects would have also seen the star and acted accordingly.

Furthermore, the star guided the wise men to the house. What star could have done that, unless by supernatural means? I believe the star was an angel who guided the wise men to the house.

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh."

Matthew 2: 10-11

The giving of gifts has become a tradition for Christmas. And it began with the wise men giving gifts to Christ on his birthday, whether belated or not.

The three gift types were common with traders and merchants passing through Persia during that time. Each gift type has a significance.

Gold - symbol of kingship

Frankincense - symbol of deity

Myrrh - symbol of death

Isn't it interesting that the wise men already knew who Christ was and his purpose on earth!

"Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way."

Matthew 2:12

The Circumcision of Jesus

"And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb."

Lk 2:21

Have you ever realised why circumcision was done on the eighth day after birth? Not earlier but the eight day onwards? God gave this command to His people in Leviticus 12:3.

It was only at the turn of this century that science found out why. Science found that the clotting elements found in the blood peak on the 8th day after birth! Talking about precision! God doesn't make a mistake!

Let's summarize.

  • Mary was a virgin who conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit
  • Joseph and Mary travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem (Joseph's hometown) to register the Roman census
  • Bethlehem was crowded with people returning to their hometown.
  • Joseph and Mary stayed in a common house and had to give birth next to the stable because the guest room was occupied.
  • Baby Jesus was placed in a manger
  • The shepherds, who were with their sheep in the field, saw angels proclaiming Jesus' birth
  • The wise men from the east saw a star and were supernaturally guided to the house where Jesus lay.
  • Joseph and Mary complied with the Jewish laws for a new birth

So Christ was born on Christmas Day.

What is the significance of his birth?

The birth of Jesus was foretold in the Old Testament. Jews believed that the Messiah would come to save them. But his people rejected him as the messiah. Instead, the people whom Jesus had come to save led him to be slain and die on the cross by crucifixion.

So the significance of Jesus' birth is not in his birth but in his death and resurrection!

Do you believe in the resurrection of Jesus? Find the resurrection evidence HERE.

Jesus' resurrection is the cornerstone of Christianity.

Without the resurrection, the Christian faith is worthless.

"But if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain.. "

1 Corinthian 15:14

We are sinners, and we deserve death!

Jesus came to earth to die for us and to redeem us from the wrath of God.

It is not by our own merits or works but a free gift from God. It is what we call God's grace. We do not deserve this gift, but He freely gave it to all those who believe in Jesus Christ.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" - Ephesians 2:8-9

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." - Titus 2:11-14

"For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." - John 1:17

"So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"[f]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit." - 1 Corinthian 15:45

Jesus was the last Adam.

Jesus was fully man and fully God. He came as an atonement for our sin. He laid his life for all so that whosoever believed in Him would have everlasting life.

"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Romans3:23

We are all sinners, and we deserve to die in hell.

We do not deserve to live, but God had a plan: He came and gave us life.

God gave us eternal life through Jesus Christ.



So, what is the true meaning of Christmas?

Christmas has always been about Jesus!  His life and, more importantly, his death and resurrection!!

Jesus came to be the sacrificial lamb for the sin of all mankind.

.."Behold, the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world!" - John 1:29

"And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." - Hebrews 10:10-14

Did you remember the last words Jesus used just before he gave up his spirit?

"When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit" - John 19:30

Jesus' mission when he came to earth was to die for us. And he completed his mission.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16

So whenever you celebrate Christmas, it is never Santa Claus, Christmas trees, lights, or presents that define the spirit of Christmas. Yes, the joyous spirit of giving and jolly festivities can sometimes overwhelm us with emotions. But it was never about these things.

The true meaning of Christmas has always been about Jesus - his birth, death, and his resurrection!

Anything other than Jesus is not from God.

So be careful what you focus on in your life this Christmas.

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" - Luke 12:34

So pick up your Bible and learn more about Jesus. If you do not know Jesus as your saviour yet, why not go to your Christian friend or nearest church or try out the Bible links on the website resource page?

You can even send me an email if you have any questions, and I will see how else I can help you.

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