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Christmas Was a Jewish Holiday

(C) by Pastor David K. Spurbeck
Valley Baptist Church
Gaston, Oregon

Christmas was a Jewish holiday that the nation missed. A Jewish virgin bore a Jewish boy in a Jewish city. He was born a Jewish king of the tribe of Judah and of the lineage and family of David. He was the last of a dynastic line and the beginning of forever.

Some of His people waited for His coming while most didn't care. His presence was unimportant for their future dreams were built upon their imaginations, traditions and interpretations of all that God had promised to the Jewish nation.

He fulfilled every prophecy of God to Israel concerning the coming of the Messiah to Israel. Genealogists couldn't ignore Him. Prophets proclaimed Him. Godly Israelites anticipated Him. Self-righteous Jews chose to ignore Him. Angels announced His birth before it happened. Privileged shepherds witnessed the fact of His birth. Armies of angels announced His coming to His people and to His nation. Gentile wise men came to honor Him as King.

His own people and nation rejected His offering of the kingdom so there was no reason for a holiday. In all of their history they have continued to oppose Messiah. They never honored Him with a holiday. They never built Him a palace. They never gave Him the prestige He deserved. They never pledged their allegiance to Him though their national destiny was built upon Him. They never acknowledged His royal rights. They never admitted that He fulfilled biblical prophecy concerning Israel's king and His deliverance of Israel. They willingly accepted His miraculous credentials while denying incarnation. Few persons of other nations would have accepted Him had He been their King.

He rightly deserved birth in a palace bed with Jewish royal physicians attending and with His birth proclaimed from border to border by the Jewish palace staff. He deserved instant honor from Jews both small and great. He deserved elevation from the nation as a whole while guarded by an army of Jewish bodyguards. Jewish women and girls should have been thrilled with His birth and rejoiced with Mary who had been chosen to fulfill the desire of women. His birth should have been a day of national celebration and festivities.

The prophets proclaimed His birth to be a Jewish holiday. His coming was to be as the son of David raising again the kingdom of His father. Centuries had passed since the Babylonians had carried away the kings who had been enthroned on David's throne ruining the monarchy. Finally they shattered the Jewish nation scattering her subjects throughout the world. These same prophets also promised that His presence would be the very presence of God in the nation, "God is with us"--Immanuel. Royalty and deity were united in flesh--incarnation. In rejecting His deity the nation also rejected His royalty. There was no holiday for Him whose divine reign was prophesied. His offer of physical salvation in time for the nation was violently rejected. Every opportunity was given to deliver Israel from Roman rule and to be regathered as a nation in the land under His rule. The King promised every physical blessing for Israel--tranquility, happiness, satisfaction, sustenance and national integrity. Yet the Jewish nation chose to reject their Messianic King and His kingdom for they wanted the kingdom on their terms and not His.

Christmas was a Jewish holiday ignored every year for the 33 years that He was here on earth. Historical records clearly pointed to Him as the King of the Jews yet when the title was used of Him, it was used in derision. In the last three and a half years of His earthly life evidence of His authority over His own things added to His credibility yet His own people did not receive Him. Each year gave the citizens of the nation a multitude of reasons to honor the day of His birth but instead of adoration there came opposition. Even those He healed often did not give Him the credit He deserved in their own lives. The Jewish hope was radically changed. It was not the hope for a living king but a hope that each birthday would be His last. Instead of the covenanted eternal throne of David being established by their accepting of His kingdom, they chose to reject Him and His inauguration was replaced with crucifixion. His death was more esteemed than all the proof of His Messianic glory as the God-man.

Christmas was a Jewish holiday rejected because the Person to be honored was an object of hatred. The Jewish rejection of His sovereign right to the throne led Him to the cross. His own people instigated the events in which ultimately the whole world would participate--the slaying of the Messianic King so God the Father could make Him the Savior of the world. He bore the sins of the world in His body on the tree. Dying He died giving a new meaning to His birth. He was born a Savior to provide salvation for His people and for the whole world. Jews, Romans, Gentiles were guilty in His death rejecting Him for all He was and is. Yet some do believe of all peoples and give Him honor and glory as they worship their Savior.

Christmas was a Jewish holiday rejected by the people and their leaders. In the world where others celebrate Christ's birth, the Jewish people were left without a holiday. In "Christian" lands gifts were given and joyous celebrations shared. Having rejected God's great gift and His offer of deliverance, they chose to celebrate a lesser deliverance in Hanukkah, the Feast of Lights. A lighted menorah replaced Him who became the Light of the world. Rededication of the temple of the departed glory is celebrated rather than the exaltation of the Messiah King of the glory. Gifts and games have made the holiday a replacement for a Jewish Christmas.

Christmas became a Christian holiday because the Jewish rejection of the Incarnate King made it possible for Jews and Gentiles to be saved spiritually. Only a few true believers of Israel accepted Jesus Christ as King but the nation as a whole rejected Him. Gentiles had no reason nor right to make Christmas their holiday for until He had died and had risen from the dead, the Gentiles could not benefit from His coming.

One does not need to become a Jew to celebrate Christmas, the Jewish holiday. There is no reason for the Christian to claim for himself what was offered to Israel in Christ's first coming. The kingdom offered in His birth was a kingdom for Israel and not for Gentiles or for Christians. Prospective salvation seen in the title "Jesus" was physical for Israel in time. After His death and resurrection provided spiritual salvation and another kingdom, "the kingdom of His dear Son" was established. The prophets had but hinted that others than Jews would ever share the benefits of His coming but only through His dying. Because He died, Christians benefit from His birth since He came to die for all mankind.

The One who was to be the King of the Jews became the Savior of the world. Because of His rejection, salvation was made available not only to the Jews but also to non-Jews. By faith in His death for sins, burial and resurrection a human being could have a spiritual relationship with God. Jesus Christ became the Head of His Body, the Church, in which Jews ceased to be Jews and Gentiles ceased to be Gentiles. Because He is the Head of the Church, His birthday has become important to the Church because grace has extended the benefits of His coming to Christians who honor Him as Savior. Christian hearts are filled with anticipation of His coming to catch them to Himself in the air and to make His Body His Bride. He will return again to earth with His Bride but not as a babe. This time He will come as the Sovereign to establish His Jewish kingdom over which He and His consort will rule.

Over the centuries His death has made His birthday an important holiday. Though we do not know the day of His birth, we worship Him. We do know the day of His death but more important we know the day of His resurrection. "He is not here, He is risen."

From an empty cradle through an empty cross through an empty tomb to a heavenly throne at the Father's right hand, He sits, the Eternal God, the Savior, the Glorified Resurrected One--the Lord Jesus Christ. He lives!-- Not as a babe or a dying Savior but as the God of heaven who will come again and establish the Jewish kingdom He offered Israel and which was rejected. He will rule the world and finally Christmas will be a Jewish holiday for they will see Him as He is--God incarnate.