While sitting at a psychiatric help desk that costs a mere five cents – the classically beloved Schultz character Charlie Brown begins to unload his burdens, “Actually Lucy, my trouble is Christmas. I just don’t understand it.”
Two thoughts came to mind when I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas with my kids this year:
1) Medical Insurance obviously never effected Charlie’s time as it does our current time, and
2) Jesus’ birthday is still being misunderstood and misconstrued 2,000 +/- years later.
So I asked myself: How is it that after all this time some people – sorry Charlie – don’t “understand” Christmas?
Earlier in this classic, Charlie had confided his quandary of misguided Christmas spirit to his friend Linus.
“Charlie Brown, you’re the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem,” Linus replied.
Well, again Christmas as a problem apparently has flooded our un-cartoonish world just as has problems with medical insurance.
Luckily for Charlie, and those of us who watch this holiday staple year-after-year, Linus later gave the Biblical – true- meaning of Christmas, which can be found in Luke chapter 2. I know its Christmas time, but I won’t tell that story now. However, I did provide the location for those who aren’t familiar with where to find it.
Speaking of Christmas as a problem, many people deny that Jesus was the Son of God. Many deny that Jesus rose from the dead. Many deny that Jesus was brutally hung from a cross until he bled out and died. Many deny that Jesus could’ve been born to a virgin. And yes, there are those who deny Jesus ever lived at all.
The answers are all around us if you look, and you don’t have to be a believer in Christ to see the answers. That’s right. Science – an earthly study of things we can see – also attempts to explain Jesus. There are several TV shows by the History Channel and their subsidiary channels that try to scientifically explain Biblical artifacts, as well as attempting to answer the question, “Who was Jesus?”
Using 3D computer imagery – along with a CAT scanned, carbon-dated skull of a 1st century 12 year-old Galilean, scientists input the data into the software trying to understand what an adolescent Jesus would’ve looked like.
Archeologists are still unearthing the earth that now covers the ruins of where Jesus grew up in an effort to scientifically explain, not only who Jesus himself, but his family and how he may have been treated by other Galilean/Nazarene teens. Laying out historical events – Jesus witnessing Roman invasion and wealth, as well as witnessing ultimately impoverished people around him, etc – these modern-day “wise men” try to explain how Jesus got his vast knowledge of Jewish scripture, as well as how he possibly “came up” with the parables He used in His teachings. I assume these wise men would not be able to blindly follow a star on faith.
“Maybe Lucy’s right. Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Brownist,” I quote Linus again. Perhaps he might say that to these scientists, archeologists and historians.
Sure, a historian’s bread-and-butter is in explaining people – who actually lived I will add- such as Alexander, the Caesars, the Buddha, the Pharaohs, King Herrod, and yes even (Insert Famous name here). But do you know any of those famous historical people’s birthday, hmm?
Instead of telling the Christmas story itself, I was reminded of a passage in Acts 5, in which Luke – a historian himself- tells of the apostles being arrested for preaching about Jesus.
“We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” the high priests said to Peter in vs. 28 (NIV).
(29) Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! (30) The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead – who you had killed by hanging Him on a tree. (31) God exalted Him to His own right hand as Prince and Savior that He might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.”
To keep your attention on my lengthy holiday explanations, I may skip a few verses, but everyone is welcome to pick up a Bible and read the whole story for yourselves.
(33) When they heard this, they wanted to put them to death. (34) But a Pharisee named Gamaleil, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all people……
What is a Pharisee some might ask? Well, completely in my opinion which comes with no theological degrees, I think the Pharisees and Sadducees were kind of like our modern-day Republican and Democratic Party leaders. They had opposing views on Jewish law and its interpretations, both groups believed that all who were under the law had to follow it to the letter, but yet many of them thought that the law didn’t apply to them.
Sorry for the sidetrack, back to Bible now.
(35) Then he addressed them: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. (36) Some time ago Theadus appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all of his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. (37) After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. (38) Therefore in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. (39) But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will find yourselves fighting against God.”
(40) His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, AND LET THEM GO.
(42) Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.
I ask you readers, if Jesus was not of God, would His teachings still be heard around the world today? I don’t think so.
I know, I know. We have to go back to science because it indicates that Jesus was not born on Dec. 25, of the year 0. But seriously, the whole world – every country- knows what Christmas is, whether they celebrate/acknowledge it or not.
I will leave you to ponder two thoughts:
1) is the title of this column “Who else do you know who is celebrating their 2,000th +/- birthday?
2) A summation of Peter’s words: God raised Jesus from the dead and brought Him to His own side “as Prince and Savior that He might give repentance and forgiveness.”
“That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown,” – Linus.