It's Christmas time so I'd thought I'd write a little bit about Christmas. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all start in with the birth of Jesus and quickly segway into the story of John the Baptist and John's baptising Jesus in the River Jordan. They all give a little bit different version of the story, yet they're all pretty much the same (although all interesting in and of themselves).
One of the neat things we realize when reading the Bible is that John the Baptist and Jesus were born at about the same time. In fact, John's mother Elizabeth and Jesus's mother Mary spent a few months together at one point, according to the writings of Luke.
Luke writes the only account of Jesus as a young boy of about 12. Mary and Joseph took him to town shopping, and Jesus disappeared. Mary and Joseph searched three days before they found him at an alter where another man was speaking the word of God. Jesus said, "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"
That's about all we know about his childhood. The bible does mention many times Jesus had siblings, yet only in passing. Yet historians note that at the time of the birth of Jesus about 40% of children did not make it to adulthood, so most people would have as many children as they could. And back then children were assets, as they could be put to work. So chances are he had many siblings.
The modern English version of the Bible states that Jesus was probably a carpenter, yet this may be a mistake in translation. In Nazareth, where Jesus grew up, working with stone was more common than working with wood. So chances are his father worked with stone instead of as a carpenter.
When Jesus was 30 he met John the Baptist. Jesus liked the way he worshiped. Jesus wanted to be Baptised by John the Baptist, although John said that it was Jesus who should be baptizing him, and that he, John the Baptist, was not worthy of walking in Jesus's shoes. Yet he also said that he was paving the way for Jesus (just as the prophet Isaiah had earlier predicted).
Jesus needed to be cleansed not so much of his original sin but of any sins he had committed up to that time. Chances are this was not the first time Jesus was Baptised. It was common for people to be Baptised many times back then. Every time a woman, for instance, had a period she was supposed to be Baptised before going before the Lord's house. The same was true for men who'se seman did not conceive a life.
Yet at 30 Jesus wanted to share the word of the Lord himself, and to travel to sacred places like Jerusalem Jesus had to be purified, and he loved the way John the Baptist worshiped the Lord, and so he chose to be Baptised in the River Jordan by John the Baptist.
While the Bible does not say this, Jesus followed John for a while to learn his way. Soon after the Baptism of Jesus, the King of Judea, King Herod, learned of John the Baptist and was afraid that he would take over his throne.
So Herod had John the Baptist imprisoned and later had his head cut off. Herod knew of the new King of the Jews, and he saw him as a threat. And Lord knows he also saw Jesus as a threat, yet could never catch up to him because Jesus was protected by angels.
Jesus worshiped in much the same way as John the Baptist yet he went a step further. He taught that Heaven begins right here on Earth. He taught that if you were humble in this life, frugal and honest, if you care about others before yourself, you have already started on the journey to Heaven.
He was the first philosopher to preach that one should live a good life to get to Heaven. Many modern philosophers believe that he set the way for Christianity, and Christianity is what set the way for freedom in the West and the revolutions that lead to all the great technologies that allow so many people to enjoy their freedom. The same technologies kids yearn to receive on Christmas.
Christianity lead to the people of Britain speaking out against the powers of the king and yearning for more freedom. It lead to the signing of the Magna Carta. It lead even further to the signing of the Declaration of Independence,the American Revolution and finally to the signing of the U.S. Constitution that limited government and prevented it from making any law abridging any of the freedoms of which we are born with.
Being humble and honest in THIS life was the key, Jesus taught, to getting to Heaven. That you couldn't kill other people, you couldn't deceive others, you couldn't spend a life being dishonest and evil, and still get to Heaven. The journey to Heaven starts right now, Jesus taught.
Everything around you you can thank Jesus for. While Jesus set the way for everything we have, it is not materialism that we should be thankful for on Christmas, for Christmas is a more humbling celebration.
The purpose of Christmas is the Celebration of the start of Jesus's life. It's a celebration of His Life. It's youth. It's Children. It's the family. It's the basic core of life. I wrote more about this here.