An Unusual Birth
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth, I John 5:5,6.
We will look at two things that the Apostle John emphasizes here. The first is that Jesus is the Son of God. Popular songs and ersatz bibles often depict him as God's only son, but that is false. He is the only begotten Son of God. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him, John 1:18. Adam is called a son of God in Luke 3:38, the angels and Satan are called sons of God in Job 1:6. Jesus is not God's only son, he is the only son God ever had in which he himself (God ) was the father involved in a natural birth.
We know the birth is natural from the accounts in the gospels that outline Mary's virginity, the miracle of the power of the Highest overshadowing her, and the promise that her child would be called the Son of the Highest. What John wants made very plain is that Jesus Christ then had a natural birth. He came by water and by blood. You don't need to be a gynecologist or a midwife to understand that reference. There was blood and water on the hay of that manger and on the very cloths laid down for the birth of Jesus Christ.
In the miracle of the new birth of the believer, the Spirit of God bears witness in the believer's heart that Jesus Christ was born of a natural birth and that God is his Father. Knowing instinctively in the innermost sanctums of the heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is the true proof of being born again.
What has vexed many over the years has been the timing of that birth. We know that the very date system which we use that purported to be from the year of Jesus Christ's birth is faulty. Prior to the Christian era calendar, the years were reckoned from the supposed founding of the city of Rome. The Catholic Church settled on 750 Ab urbe Condita, or 750 years from the founding of Rome to represent the year when Jesus Christ was born. That unfortunate choice of years was the year Herod died and any cursory reader of the bible knows that Herod was alive for at least 2 years after the birth of Jesus Christ.
The bible is purposely vague on the timing of Jesus Christ's birth. The Apostle Paul merely said; But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, Galatians 4:4. God had a plan for the timing of the birth of Jesus Christ, but what is important to note here is that he was made under the law. The miraculous conception of Jesus Christ wherein he was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, Romans 1:3 took place prior to the birth of John the Baptist. The law and the prophets were until John, Luke 16:16. The clock of Daniel chapter 9 stopped at the birth of John. Everything after that is the times of the Gentiles. Jesus was born on Gentile time.
If we want to learn anything about the timing of the birth of Jesus Christ we need to be looking at Gentile time. In vain have many sought for the Jewish feast day that was meant to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. There isn't one. The entire life of Jesus Christ was sandwiched in between 2 censuses, each conducted by the Romans. Jesus Christ's parents came to Bethlehem to be taxed. It is at such times that the Romans counted their citizens. You can be sure Jesus Christ was counted and a tally given to Rome the moment he was born. At his death he was numbered; And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors, Mark 15:28. From the moment he was born, he began to bear our transgressions. When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them, Exodus 30:12.
It is in the taxation that we get a hint as to the time of year when Jesus Christ was born. I know that there are many who try to ascertain the time by noting that Zacharias the father of the John the Baptist was fulfilling his obligations after the course of Abia (I chronicles 24:10). They do this by going back to the inception of the course of Abia under King David and trying to keep track of the 12 month courses from that time.
This has no accuracy at all. The Jewish month was based on a lunar month. New moons come every 28 days. The very courses of the temple were stopped and started at least 3 or 4 times from David until Christ. The people who I have seen try that approach had a conclusion before they started. Their suppositions can not be taken seriously.
Instead we need to look at the evidence at hand. The Romans gave a command. That command originated in Rome and had to filter throughout the entire Roman empire. Then, the people who received that command had to have time to travel to their cities of birth and to pay the tax. You can be sure that a lot of time was given and that the time given was until the end of a Roman year which originally had been the winter solstice but had drifted to a later date because of the inaccuracies of the Roman year. (That is why we have leap years to stop that drift.) The month of January started the Roman new year.
We then need to ask ourselves; Why would Joseph put a nine month pregnant woman on a pack animal and make her travel 90 miles? Why not just wait for the baby to be born? The obvious answer is that the time limit was fast approaching and that it was dangerous to wait any longer. That would put the birth of Jesus Christ at the end of the Roman year or the last week of December.
There are a couple of objections to that timing. Why would shepherds be out in the fields at the end of December? Thanks to the internet we can now check the temperatures in Bethlehem at the end of December. It is warm enough. Secondly, a great event was happening in Bethlehem with the taxation. There was no room in the inns. If someone was willing to rent your manger, you can be sure that your sheep would be out in the field.
The second great objection is that December 25th has long been a pagan holiday. The Roman feast of Saturnalia was celebrated on that day and the birth of Baal was celebrated on that day. The obvious answer to this is Isaiah 14:14; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. The devil specifically staked out that day. In fact, the very fact that the devil sought to defile that day is very good proof for it being the day of the birth of Jesus Christ. The devil did a similar thing with the feast of Ishtar (Easter) and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Puritans and the Pilgrims (2 different groups) outlawed Christmas. If you want to live after their laws, be my guest. They also outlawed maypoles, figgy pudding and adult baptism. If you are going to be consistent, go all the way. I don't mean to denigrate men who were truly great, but they were not perfect and any time I meet people who obsess with their writings, there is an air of heaviness that goes with them.