Christmas: A Jewish Holiday
by Alan Allegra 11/08/2010 / Holidays
Here come the cards and letters! How can Christmas be a Jewish holiday? Isn't that a contradiction? Isn't Christmas a Christian holiday?
When I was much younger, I had a Jewish girlfriend. I recall decorating a tree in my apartment and topping it with a Star of David. Is it so bizarre to top a Christmas tree with a Jewish symbol? Let's go to the Bible to find out.
Christmas is the celebration of this monumental event: "And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ" (Matthew 1:16). Contrary to popular belief, "Christ" is not Jesus' last name; it is his title. It is the Greek form of the title "Messiah," which means "Anointed One." It signifies God chose him to rule the nation of Israel. He is a Jewish king.
As I write, we are fresh from an historic election. People are pinning their hopes on politicians like blindfolded kids pinning the tail on the donkey (or, in this case, the elephant). We expect the world to be made right.
One of the most beloved Bible verses used at Christmas is Isaiah 9:6: "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." However, there is more: "Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this" (v. 7). The child born in the manger was not meant to be merely a cute story or an ornament traded on eBay or a genie in a lamp - he was born to rule Israel and the world.
The Star was prophesied hundreds of years before his birth: "A Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel" (Numbers 24:17). A star led the wise men to the Star: "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him" (Matthew 2:2). Revelation, which describes the events leading up to the Kingdom, quotes the Christ: "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star" (22:16).
Notice that Jesus addressed churches, which are primarily non-Jewish. By the grace of God and through Jesus, all are invited to join the Kingdom. That is the essence of "the gospel of the kingdom of God" (Mark 1:14). Jesus was born as "a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel" (Luke 2:32). He died to affirm the gospel, "For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).
The greatest political revolution in world history happened 2,000 years ago. A ruler was born who will give perfect counsel, rule with almighty power and authority, reign forever and bring perfect peace. Everything every person longs for will be fulfilled with no social or national animosity, previewed in what the church should be: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
Don't allow the flush of victory or the blush of defeat give false hope or despair. The Son of David, the King of Israel, the Bright and Morning Star is coming back, and he invites you to join his kingdom! Merry Christmas!