Christmas Reflections: Did Jesus Ever Celebrate His Birthday?

Source: http://pixgood.com/happy-birthday-jesus-cake.html
Source: http://pixgood.com/happy-birthday-jesus-cake.html

“Did Jesus ever celebrate His birthday?”

I know this is a rather odd question but I beg your indulgence. It’s Christmas Day and I was reminded (again) that Jesus was not born on 25 December; and if one would engage in some clever detective work through the Scriptures, the astute student of the Word would know that it was sometime in September.

Sounds nice and revelatory, impressive even. But then, I can’t help but wonder, “You mean to say that the early church fathers and leaders did not know this at all?” Who did the calculations, who made the assumptions, and who approved 25 December? Oh right, the Bible as we know it today was not compiled yet. But were not the gospels in circulation already? And if Jesus’ birth was really in September, surely oral tradition would have attested to that. What’s more, could not Jesus’ family and relatives provide verification? Would not His disciples know their Master’s birthday, having spent three years with him? Surely, they must have cut at least one birthday cake with Him.

That prompted me to google, “How do Jews celebrate birthdays?” Since Jesus was a Jew, this would be the most natural place to start that I may have an idea of how important birthdays are to Jews and how they are celebrated.

To my surprise, this is what I found on http://www.ritualwell.org…

The Encyclopedia Judaica could not be more blunt: “The celebration of birthdays is unknown in traditional Jewish ritual.”

The tradition also holds that your birth alone is not as significant as the way you live your life. After all, King Solomon is thought to have said, “The day of death is better than the day of one’s birth (Ecclesiastes 7:1).

As a midrash explains, ‘When a person is born, it is not known what he will be like when grown and what his deeds will be whether righteous or wicked, good, or evil. When he dies, however, if he departs with a good name and leaves the world in peace, people should rejoice.” With that in mind, traditional communities are more likely to mark the anniversary of a revered leader’s death than his birth.

I stand guided and corrected (for I am no Jewish scholar) but if this is indeed accurate, then would it not be safe to assume that Jesus never celebrated His birthday in the way we are accustomed to in Western and secular influence? As I have learnt from Dr Michael Brown (askdrbrown.org), we need to see Jesus through Jewish lenses because Jesus was a Jew. We cannot and must not impose our own cultural biases on Him or the Scriptures (which is primarily a Jewish document).

Now, if Jesus did not celebrate His birthday, why do we make such a big hooha over it? Don’t get me wrong! I am thankful that God sent His Son, that Jesus was born (whichever month or day that was). Yet, consistent with Eccl 7:1 and the explanation of the midrash, it is the death of Jesus that is more significant than His birth. For if Jesus had not been obedient until the point of death, His birth – and I write this with utmost reverence and respect – would have meant much less. A wise man, a great teacher, a compassionate friend, a miracle worker He still would have been. But we would still be in our sins in dire need of the perfect Sacrifice and Saviour.

Perhaps that explains why I have been not been feeling very “Christmassy” of late. It could be a sign of age, or I’m just plain tired of all the hype and commercialism of the season. And no, I am not one of those who refuse to celebrate Christmas because it’s the wrong date or a pagan festival disguised in Christian garb. I just don’t think we should go overboard with this Christmas thingy.

But the Cross and death of Jesus Christ is totally different. I have always declared that every believer must have a fresh revelation of the Cross over and over again. Without His death, where would we be? Without His shed blood, our sins would only be covered but not washed away. Without His broken body, there would not have been a new and living way into the presence of God! Paul never wrote about Jesus’ birth but always gloried in His Cross and determined to preach Jesus and Him crucified. Yes, I would gladly mark and celebrate the death of Jesus Christ … more than His birth.

Thanks for reading this little Christmas reflection. For sure, Christmas, with all its traditions and inaccuracies, is here to stay; as will the fat man in the red suit and Christians who still insist on wearing his signature hat (Santa? No Santa?). And yes, I am still open and available to preach at Christmas services and outreaches.

Blessed Christmas!

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16 thoughts on “Christmas Reflections: Did Jesus Ever Celebrate His Birthday?

  1. Thanks, Rev Henson.This message resonates with me. Commemoration of Christ’s birth is an opportunity to share His love. Otherwise, it’s just mindless celebrations.

    1. No one knows when Jesus was earthly born,first of all he been here since the beginning of time ans it’s people like y’all pale messing up the word of GOD,ye know it is not biblical or scripture at all. And when JESUS say we were christians? Or did he walk in that name? Heck no it was mockery

  2. You are spot on. It is so amazing to know others have opened their eyes to this! All glory to God in the Highest! May the Lord Jesus bless you greatly!

  3. I wandered onto this page because on my birthday (today) I got curious about how Jesus Christ celebrated his birthday. At my google I received information about how Jewish people celebrate their birthdays. I usually do something unique like go kayaking or do a boat ride somewhere. My real question is what would God want me to do with this day. In researching I learned that its the day of death that’s the most important not the day of birth. It matters how one spends ones life and the impact that is made on others for the kingdom of heaven. I’ve been celebrating me all these years because no one else seems to care but Jesus was a servant. I think I might have been missing the point. Now I’ve got to get busy going in the right direction. Thanks for this blog! 🙂

  4. Yes! It’s wonderful to know from the Word of God the truth. I always used to wonder how the world celebrates X’mas. Then I realized that Jesus was nowhere, except in the tiny manger. But someone else overshadowed Him. This was Santa, a fictitious character! And how the world loves him. Children have been taught from infancy that he gives us gifts etc. Well, after studying the Bible, I got revelation! Christmas is not about Christ. To know Him, I have to study the Gospel accounts and they emphasize his life, sufferings and death and resurrection. Glory to God!

  5. Jesus doesnt need to celebrate his own bday to show him love. We celebrate his bday because WE want to and show him love

    Its like a baby, (i know jesus isnt a baby but the concept is the same) if a baby doesnt celebrate their own birthday does it mean we cant celebrate it for him to show love?

    Why does Jesus need to celebrate it just so we can celebrate it?

    1. Then, using your logic, why didn’t the Apostles and early church celebrate the birth of the savior ? When Christ was 12 years old there was no birthday party for him.

  6. Thank you for putting my thoughts into writing!! Exactly how I have been feeling the last few years!! May God’s blessings be with you always!!

  7. Does these Pagan holidays days have any significance to them? These days came from Constantine, not from the word of God. Read Jeremiah 10, about the Christmas tree. God said if you love me keep my Commandments, his Commandments is love, everyday of our life, love thy neighbor as thyself, your neighbor is anyone that needs your help, anytime of the year not just Christmas. Leviticus 23 are the days God want us to keep. Genesis chapter 2:1-3 when God created the world in 6 days and on the seventh day he rested he blessed it and he Sanctified that day. Look at your calendar it starts with Sunday the first day of the week. God’s blood did what no animal sacrifice could do, because they were born in sin. Jesus blood brought us back to God, Leviticus 23 read, the weekly Sabbath, Passover, the Feast of unleavened bread, first fruit which is Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of trumpets, the Feast of atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, and the last great day of that feast. All of God’s Holy day’s seven steps to God’s Master Plan of Salvation. We are to keep them in there season. Passover that was his death that’s the day when we have the Lord’s Passover supper, the bread symbolize in his body, that was broken for us, the Wine Juice symbolizes his blood, that was shed for us, and the foot wash symbolizing humility Jesus washed his disciples feet, we are followers of Christ, we are to wash one another’s feet, the next day is the Feast of unleavened bread these two are tied in together read Exodus chapter 13 also these holy days are in the New Testament also Luke chapter 22 all these holy days are in the old and the new Testament. How can you build a house without a foundation? the Old Testament is the foundation for the New Testament they go together. Google God’s Holy day, my brothers and sisters it’s time to study to show thyself approved, a Workman unto God that needed not to be a shame, but righteously dividing the word of Truth. God said search the scriptures, in them you think you have eternal life, and they are they that testify of me. Read the word of God for yourself.. God bless you all.

  8. If he had not been born, he could not have died. But I do agree, the holy day has evolved into a holiday and has become as commercial as people allow it to be, in their lives. Consider this, though, because it is an official holiday people make a special effort to convene and a number of jobs make that possible. It shouldn’t be that way, however many have family and friends spread across the country – even the world! December 25th is a date, an unforgettable date, that is set aside to celebrate Jesus birth, whether or not you’re a believer. I’m all for anything that can bring family and friends together and celebrate each other.

  9. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. What an amazing thing to happen. He was human. He witnessed and in some cases, exhibited our frailties and faults as well as our generosity and kindness – He was one of us and loved us more because of it. He may not have celebrated but we have cause to celebrate His birth because of those words….and dwelt among us.

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