We did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
–2 Peter 1:16
The message of Christmas is very important: God loves you so much that He was willing to take on human form and die on your behalf. And this message is grounded in historical facts.
One of the facts of Christmas is Christ’s fulfillment of prophecy. Every year around the holidays, newsmagazines usually come out with a story related to Jesus Christ. When we see a story like that, we think it is a great thing until we read the story. The stories in these liberal magazines all say the same thing. They say, yes, Jesus really did exist. He was a great teacher who lived a good life, but then His followers wrapped the story in mythologies about His being the Son of God and dying on a cross and rising from the dead, so we cannot trust those accounts in the Gospels.
We have to wonder why there is such a wholesale attempt to discredit the historicity of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life. Are there really historical inaccuracies in the Gospels, or is there another agenda at work here? It comes down to this: if you want to dispute the claim that Jesus really was the Son of God, then you have to go to the sources of those claims and discredit them.
How do people try to discredit the Gospel accounts? First, they claim that these Gospel accounts are filled with all kinds of historical inaccuracies. One they love to point to is in Luke 2, when Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem to participate in the census ordered by the Roman government for the purpose of taxation. For years, critics said, “There is no evidence that the Roman government ever conducted a census.” Yet recently a document was discovered dating back to 48 BC that proved the Roman government regularly had censuses for the purpose of taxation. There are no historical errors in the Bible, though liberals insist that there are.
Second, people try to discredit the Gospels by saying, “The Gospel writers had a hidden agenda.” Critics say the Jewish writers of the Gospels knew the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah, so they manufactured a myth about Jesus to coincide with these prophecies. But there are two problems with that idea. First of all, remember that when they wrote their Gospels, there were scores of people alive who had witnessed these events. If the Gospels were fabrications, then they never would have been embraced and recognized by people in the first century.
But there is a more important problem with this idea of the Gospel writers fabricating the story. The men who wrote these accounts were willing to die for their belief that Jesus was the Son of God. Peter said, “We did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). The Christmas story is built upon the foundation of Christ’s fulfillment of prophecy.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “God In A Stable: Fact Or Fable?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.