Many have already set up their nativity scenes on mantles, tables or under the tree. Nativity scenes are beautiful. They cause us to wonder and consider what it might have been like so many years ago on the night in which our Saviour was born. Unfortunately, many nativity scenes portray misconceptions about Christmas. They depict things that are not biblically supported. So also do many of the Christmas narratives and pageants at this time of year. They all tell the Christmas story, but are they correct? Is it the “Hollywood syndrome” whereby the story get “rewritten” with theatrical and poetic license?
Did You Know?
For the next three weeks, Got Questions? will focus on common misconceptions surrounding Jesus’ birth. First, let’s address that most nativity scenes portray European or Caucasian people. We know that Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and the shepherds were all Middle-eastern Jews and that the Wise Men were from Persia, so we also know that the figures in nativity scenes should have much darker skin. Setting that aside, let’s focus on some lesser known misconceptions. This week we’ll review the journey to Bethlehem and Mary and Joseph’s arrival there. What do we know about this journey? What does the Bible tell us and what has been created by legend and lore?
Did Mary ride on a donkey to Bethlehem?
We don’t know the answer to this question. But it is likely that she did. The Bible only tells that Mary went with Joseph to the city of David, which is Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-5). The Bible does not say that Mary rode on a donkey.
However, since we know that the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was 70-80 miles and that Mary was pregnant (Luke 2:5), it is not likely Mary would have been able to travel the full distance on foot. Other than walking, the means of travel at that time would have included donkeys, camels, horses, or some type of cart drawn by a horse. Since Joseph was not a rich man, it seems most likely that he would not have been able to get a camel, horse, or cart for use in their journey. It does seem possible that he would have owned, or been able to borrow, a donkey for Mary to ride upon during the journey to Bethlehem.
Did Mary give birth the night she and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem?
No, she did not. Christmas narratives and pageants present the idea that as soon as Mary and Joseph found shelter Mary went into labor and delivered Jesus. The Bible does not support that. There is no indication of how long Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem before she gave birth, but we can be certain it did not happen on the day she arrived. Luke 2:6 indicates at least a couple of days, but it’s possible there may have been more:
Luke 2:6-7 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son…
Was there snow in Bethlehem around the nativity scene?
We don’t know the answer to this question. Many nativity scenes feature a snow setting. While it is true that it does snow in Israel during the winter months, it is not accurate to assume that snow was falling, or that snow blanketed the ground in Bethlehem when Jesus was born.
In fact, there is support to believe that Jesus was not born in late December. He might have been born in late September. In that case, there would not have been any snow in Israel (other than at the top of Mt. Hermon, which always has snow). The reasons are many for thinking a September birth to have occurred. A foremost reason is that the shepherds were “in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8). If it had been December, it would have been too cold for the flock to be in the field at night.
It’s quite possible that when Jesus was born and came to dwell (tabernacle) with us, it was around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles in late September (Read…Was Jesus born in September? and see pictures of the record snowfall in Israel in December 2013)
The Beauty of Nativity Scenes
Now don’t hear me wrong and don’t put away your nativity scenes. Don’t skip the Christmas pageants and, please, don’t criticize the way they tell the Christmas story! The message of Jesus coming to earth, as an infant born of a virgin, is accurate…even if some of the other details are amiss.
The purpose of addressing these misconceptions is so we don’t base our theology on man’s narratives. Instead, always be a Berean and check the Scriptures to determine what is true (Acts 17:11).
Enjoy the Christmas narratives, but hold closely to the truths revealed in the Bible. The Bible does not give all-inclusive information about Jesus’ birth, but the Bible does give fully-sufficient information to know that Jesus humbled Himself and came to earth to seek and save the lost. He came to be Emmanuel—God with us. Rejoice in the great sacrifice of God that brought salvation to mankind.
Why Are There Two Different Genealogies for Jesus?
Where are the genealogies of Jesus in Mark and John?
What is the Prophetic Meaning of the Ensigns of the Camps of Israel?
Jesus in the Gospels: What are the Four Different Presentations of Jesus?
Misconceptions about the Birth of Jesus
What is the Blood Curse of Jeconiah?
Lesson for This Week
Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
As we approach Christmas, prepare your heart to “come to the manger.” Focus your eyes on Jesus the One who was whispered of in the Old Testament and revealed in Bethlehem in a lowly manger. Prepare your heart to see Jesus.
The Season of Advent (the 4 weeks before Christmas)
How Do We “Take” Advent and Find Rest?
HOPE Advent Candle 1 – Prophecy Gives Hope (video)
LOVE Advent Candle 2 – Promise Reveals Love (video)
JOY Advent Candle 3 – Jesus Is Our Joy (video)
PEACE Advent Candle 4 – Pause to Find Peace (video)
Christmas Day: When Love Was Born — Light the CHRIST Candle
What is the Prophetic Symbolism of Advent Candles?
Christmas-themed GOT QUESTIONS?
- What are the Events of Jesus’ Birth? A Simple Timeline and Chronology
- What do Zelophehad’s Daughters have to do with Christmas?
- Misconceptions about the Journey to Bethlehem (video)
- Errors in the Nativity Story? Is Jesus’ birthplace wrong?
- Who were the Three Wise Men? Fact or legend?
- How Did the Wise Men Know to Follow His Star?
- Did The Wise Men Arrive 12 Days After Jesus’ Birth? Or Was It Much Later?
- What is the significance of the Three Kings' gifts?
- Was Jesus born in a stable, a cave, or a house?
- Was Jesus born in September (not December?)
- Should we celebrate Jesus’ birthday in September?
- Does “Xmas” Cross Jesus Out of Christmas?
- What is the Prophetic Symbolism of Advent Candles?
- The Most Important Lesson for YOU in the Nativity Story?
- Was Mary a Levite, making Jesus both King and Priest?
- Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?
- How did Jesus become a man?
- Do You Get These 7 Things Right or Wrong About the Nativity Story?
- Are You Stuck in the Middle This Christmas? (short video lessons from the popular comedy TV show "The Middle.")
- What are the Prophecies of Christmas? (video)
- Where are the genealogies of Jesus in Mark and John?
- Why Are There Two Different Genealogies for Jesus?
- Should I Say “Happy Holidays” Instead of “Merry Christmas?
- Scripture Cookies – Fun for the Whole Family!
- A Boastful Christmas Letter
- Peace Delivers Hope
- Promise Ignites Hope
- Preparation Produces Hope
- Prophesy Reveals Hope
- Alone at Christmas? Feeling lonely?
- Another reason God came to dwell with man.
- How can you have a white Christmas without snow?
- Christmas, abortion, and Joseph, the forgotten man of Christmas
- Remember the Wonder of Christmas
- Will you find rest, peace, and joy this advent season?
- A Christmas Morning Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
- The Most Beautiful O Holy Night O Night Divine, when Christ was Born
- A Baby Changes Everything, by Faith Hill
- Mary, Did You Know?
- While You Were Sleeping — A Wake Up Call for America
- I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, performed by Casting Crowns
- Mary’s Child — from the movie, A Christmas Wish
- The True Meaning of Christmas: The Sacrifice Began (How Many Kings)
- What If You Had Been There When Jesus Was Born? (video)
- Pause to Find Hope. Receive the Promises of God. See Jesus. Hear God’s Plan.
- Christmas Trivia Fun
- Songs of Christmas Series: Away in a Manger; Mary, Did You Know? The Rose of Bethlehem; Good Christian Men Rejoice; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; I Wonder As I Wander; What Child Is This? The First Noel In the Bleak Midwinter (a golden oldie)
Have You Heard About This Baby Boy? A most beautiful rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, with a Christmas message to touch your heart and give joy to your soul.
Jesus is the Reason this Ministry Exists
We continue to reach people worldwide with the truths of God's Word and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Your generosity is both a blessing and encouragement. Our mission is to glorify God by equipping, encouraging, and empowering YOU to understand the Bible and grow in faith. If our online resources have blessed you, please support Reasons for Hope* Jesus. Our ministry outreach has grown significantly and . . .
Please support Reasons for Hope* Jesus with a donation of $5, $10, $20, or more. A donation of any amount is needed and greatly appreciated.
CLICK TO DONATE
to Reasons for Hope*Jesus(a 501c3 Ministry)
Use a Credit Card or PayPal for safe, secure giving.
***A Hidden Message in Psalm 23?***
Hidden in the six verses of Psalm 23 are 11 names for Jesus. When you subscribe to our newsletter, we’ll send you The Names of God in Psalm 23 PDF that reveals all 11 names and Scripture verses of comfort and hope (link will be sent in your confirmation email).
A Room with a View of Eternity—The Last Will & Testament of Jesus Christ Take a seat at the Master's table. Learn about the riches He gives to all who are His. This book will bless and encourage you, give you hope, and help you live in the joy of your salvation and the riches of Christ that are yours.
The Top Ten Got Questions? in 2021
- The Meaning of NUMBERS in the Bible?
- The Meaning of COLORS in the Bible?
- How are the Shepherd’s ROD and STAFF Different?
- How long did JOB SUFFER?
- What is the Significance of the Wise Men's THREE GIFTS? And were they kings?
- Did The Wise Men Arrive 12 DAYS AFTER JESUS’ BIRTH? Or Was It Much Later?
- Which Old Testament Book Did JESUS QUOTE most often?
- How Did the Wise Men Know This Was the Messiah and KNOW TO FOLLOW HIS STAR?
- Did Jesus Fight Satan to Take Back the KEYS of Death and Hell?
- Was Jesus CRUCIFIED on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday?
More Popular Got Questions & Articles
- Is Leonard Cohen’s “HALLELUJAH” a Christian Song?
- How was Jesus Like a Worm? What’s the CRIMSON (OR SCARLET) WORM in Psalm 22?
- What do the 12 stones UNDER the JORDAN River mean? (Joshua 4)
- If BAPTIZED as an Infant, Do I Need to Be Re-Baptized?
- What are the NAMES of JEHOVAH Hidden in Psalm 23?
- How Many MIRACLES Did Jesus Do?
- Where did OT Saints go at death? ABRAHAM'S BOSOM?
- Is Satan’s Real Name LUCIFER?
- Was MARY a LEVITE Making Jesus both a Priest and King?
- What Does It Mean to TASTE & SEE That God Is Good? (Psalm 34)
- What are the “I Will ” STATEMENTS of Satan, God, and Jesus?
- Do ANGELS TAKE US TO HEAVEN When We Die?
- SIN, INIQUITY, TRANSGRESSION? How are they different?
- What Did Jesus Say About HEAVEN (and HELL)?
- Why Was a RAM SACRIFICED in Genesis 22 Instead of a Lamb?
TOP TEN Videos from Reasons for Hope* Jesus
- Memorial Day BAGPIPES TRIBUTE: Amazing Grace
- RISE AND SHINE and Give God the Glory, Glory!
- PAUL HARVEY: THE BIRDCAGE
- WERE YOU THERE When They Crucified My Lord?
- PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: A SOLDIER'S PLEDGE
- JOHN WAYNE ~ WHY I LOVE AMERICA
- Hark! the Herald Angels Sing -- CHARLIE BROWN Christmas
- THE LEGEND OF THE CANDY CANE - A Christmas Story to Share
- Erwin Lutzer - We Will Not Be SILENCED
- Jimmy Stewart - Nativity Scene Prayer: Mr. Krueger's Christmas