5 Facts About Christianity

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*Not suitable for children*

It seems like everyday I come across another misunderstanding on the internet about our Dear Lord Jesus. I thought I would address some of these today.

If you have any questions, ask in the comments below.

1. Jesus wasn’t a tall, white man with long hair.

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The New Testament gives no description of Jesus. We can only figure out what Jesus would have looked like by looking at the time and place in which he lived.

Isaiah 53:2b says: “he [Jesus] had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.”

Common Jewish traditions meant men had beards – and were humiliated to have a shaven face.

His hair would not have been that long. Not only does Paul says many did not like it that way, but, as a carpenter, it would have gotten in the way.

He probably had a lot of muscles, as working with the wood and stones would have been very laborious.

His family were not rich, so his robe would have looked like all others.

As we read in numerous verses, Jesus looked much like all other Jewish males of the time, and we need to remember that looks have nothing to do with the power and majesty that is our Lord Jesus Christ.

Is this so bad? Personally, while I think it’s important to know the truth and understand his appearance doesn’t mean anything, we can also view it as

2. Magi, Wise Men, or Kings?

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Almost every Christmas carol mentions either three Magi, three Wise Men, or Three Kings. But who were they?

We don’t know how many there were. It is commonly thought to be three because they gave gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but it could have been two, or numerous.

They were not Kings. They would have been scholars who were fluent in the Old Testament and knew the signs to look for. They came from the East (the orient), which was possibly Persia or Babylon, etc.

3. The Wise Men were not at Jesus’ birth.

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In Matthew 2:1-12 we read that the Wise Men came looking for Jesus after he was born. They approached King Herod, who then proceeded to call together all of his “chief priests and teachers of the law”. From here, the Wise Men went all the way to where Jesus was. This could have been back in Nazareth since time had passed, although it was probably in Bethlehem because when Herod had the babies killed, it was the cry out of Ramah.

Herod’s order decreed the death of the children under two years old, so time must have passed.

4. They counted the days differently.

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If Jesus was crucified on Friday, and rose again on Sunday, how could he have been dead for three days? The answer lies in how the days were counted back then.

We can read more in-depth about it HERE, but there are two ways to calculate Jesus’ death and resurrection as three days.

1.

DAY 1 DAY2 DAY 3
THU
starts at
sundown on Wed.
THU
ends at sundown
FRI
starts at sundown on Thu . . .
FRI
ends at
sundown
SAT
starts at sundown on Fri.
SAT
ends at sundown
SUN
starts at sundown on Sat.
SUN
ends at sundown
Night Day Night Day Night Day Night Day
Crucifixion Sabbath He rose

“The solution is simple when we learn that according to Jewish custom any part of a day, however small, is included as part of a full day. “Since the Jews reckoned part of a day as a full day, the ‘three days and three nights’ could permit a Friday crucifixion.””

2. 

“The verses above tell us that the Passover occurred on the 14th day of the first month of the Jewish Calendar year. This corresponds to our months of March-April. It is possible, then, that this Passover could have occurred during the week with the Saturday Sabbath following. Since Lev. 23:5-7 tells the people to rest on the first day (not the last day Saturday), this is a type of Sabbath occurrence. Therefore, perhaps the following chart could represent a Thursday crucifixion and a subsequent set of three “night and days” before the Sunday resurrection.”

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
13th of Nisan 14th of Nisan 15th of Nisan 16th of Nisan
THU
starts at
sundown on Wed.
THU
ends at sundown
FRI
starts at sundown on Thu . . .
FRI
ends at
sundown
SAT
starts at sundown on Fri.
SAT
ends at sundown
SUN
starts at sundown on Sat.
SUN
ends at sundown
Night Day Night Day Night Day Night Day
Passover/Crucifixion Sabbath He rose

“Something worth mentioning concerning this is that in the Greek in Matthew. 28:1, it says “Now after the Sabbaths [PLURAL], as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.” It is possible that there may have been two “sabbaths” during that week. The first may have been the Passover related “Sabbath” and the second may have been the Saturday Sabbath.”

5. Jesus had brothers and sisters.

You’ve probably heard about Jesus, human-father Joseph, and the Virgin Mary. But did you know Jesus had brothers and sisters born after him? In numerous places in the New Testament, we read about Jesus’ siblings. These would have been his half-siblings, as Joseph was not his father (God was).

There is a great website, HERE, that explains it perfectly. Excerpts include:

“Jesus’ brothers are mentioned in several Bible
verses. Matthew 12:46Luke 8:19, and Mark 3:31 say
that Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see Him. The
Bible tells us that Jesus had four brothers: James,
Joseph, Simon, and Judas (Matthew 13:55). The Bible also
tells us that Jesus had sisters, but they are not named
or numbered (Matthew 13:56).”

So, hopefully you’ve learned a bit about Christianity. I will be adding more Facts About Christianity, so make sure to subscribe and check back.

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Little Drummer Boy – A Christmas Carol Study

This song quickly became my favourite after I heard it performed by a band called Pentatonix. I even wrote a review about it HERE.

If you’re after more, check out my other Christmas carol studies: O Little Town of Bethlehem, Away in a Manger, and Silent Night.

Listen to the song, and come along with me as we delve into the meaning behind the lyrics.

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum

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Who came? This song tells the story of a young boy, coming to see baby Jesus. It does not hold true to any first Christmas records, so don’t try and find it in the Bible. As you will see, it is a beautiful telling of a child who travelled to see baby Jesus, and offering as a gift the only thing he could give: a song on his drum.

The use of a child, instead of an adult is, I think, a beautiful way of commenting on Jesus’ love for children. Jesus often spoke of the beauty of a child’s love and faith. This child was coming before Jesus’ ministry, with enough faith to come for his very birth.

Why a drum? I don’t know about this, and would welcome any thoughts and opinions. In the interest of expanding my knowledge and having an input for it here, I did some research.

There are a few times when percussion instruments were mentioned in the Bible. I found a great site (Drums & the Bible) which explains quite in-depth.

So while I’m not sure if this was what the song writer intended, it is cool to see the connection.

A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum

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Where would you expect a king to be born? In a palace? Surrounded by legions of loyal followers and servants? How about in a manger in a stable, surrounded by smelly animals? Jesus had only just been born and he was already a King. As both the Son of God, and God, he is the King of us all, and if we accept Jesus’ gracious gift of salvation, we get to spend eternity with him.

Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

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As I said above, who would bring expensive gifts to a baby from a no-name family? The Bible tells us of three gifts given to baby Jesus: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. Have you ever thought what these specific gifts meant? Were they chosen by the wise men (remember, they were not kings and were most likely more than three) because they were symbols, or did they also have more practical reasons? Let’s have a look together.

GOLD – Gold represents kingship. At numerous times in the Bible, gold was a gift given to kings. It was also something that would pay for their journey.

FRANKINCENSE – Frankincense could have symbolised Jesus’ priestly role. At the time, frankincense had been used for health, funeral purposes, and in the temple. It was used in sacrifices, and could have symbolised the sacrifice they knew Jesus would have to make.

MYRRH – The gift of myrrh was possibly a comment on his future – as it was often used in death and embalming. I found an article on website (HERE) that explains it much better than I could. It reads:

Myrrh was also a product of Arabia, and was obtained
from a tree in the same manner as frankincense. It was a
spice and was used in embalming. It was also sometimes
mingled with wine to form an article of drink. Such a drink
was given to our Savior when He was about to be crucified,
as a stupefying potion (Mark 15:23). Matthew 27:34 refers to
it as “gall.” Myrrh symbolizes bitterness, suffering, and
affliction. The baby Jesus would grow to suffer greatly as a
man and would pay the ultimate price when He gave His life
on the cross for all who would believe in Him.

So to honour Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come.

While it is unknown where the little drummer boy was supposed to have come from, the wise men (Magi) most likely came from Babylon or Ancient Persia. Despite what the Christmas carols and nativity scenes show, a cursory read of the gospels shows that the wise men actually wouldn’t have been at the birth of Jesus. From their talk with Herod, and other mentions, they would have arrived 1-2 years later. They still brought gifts, but not at the birth.

Pum pum pum pum pa rum pum pum
pum pum pum pum pa rum pum pum
pum pum pum pum pa rum pum pum
pum pum pum ahh

Chinese-drum

Drumming…

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum

We have heard them call Jesus the “King”, but here we see another part of Jesus. He came down to Earth to live as a human. Here, he was a little baby. What is more precious that a little baby? The fact that the most powerful became something to little and vulnerable, is awe inspiring.

I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum

I’ve heard different opinions on the wealth of Jesus (well, at this time, Mary and Joseph).

What we know about Joseph was that he was a carpenter. Nothing seems to indicate they were wealthy in anyway, and we are repeatedly told Jesus was poor. During his ministry, they relied on the kindness of others to supply them with lodging and food.

At the time of Jesus’ birth, Joseph did not have enough money or prestige to get them an appropriate place to stay. The gifts from the Magi (even if they were given 1-2 years later) would have helped, but it most likely would have been used to fund their escape to Egypt.

I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give a king, pa rum pum pum
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?
(pum pum pum part)

Have you ever felt like someone has given you so much and you could never repay them? How about when Christmas comes around and everyone is swapping presents, and you realise a lot more effort and money went into the present you were given than the one you gave out? Wouldn’t you feel worse if the one getting the short end of the stick was God as human Jesus who came to earth to die for our sins?

In this song, the little drummer boy, he is a poor boy who travelled to greet the Lord in human form, and didn’t have anything worthy enough to give as a gift. With God doing so much for us, it is easy for us to feel inadequate, but we must remember that God loves us and only wants us to accept the sacrifice his son made. There is no list of good deeds that will make us worthy, and no gift we can give to God, because everything is already his!

So what does the little drummer boy do? He shares the gift of music that he had been blessed with. One common misconception about Christianity (from those that want to make it fit to their desires, not God’s) is that as long as you do your best, you will go to Heaven. While the little drummer boy did his best, he did it FOR Jesus. We need to acknowledge that Jesus is God (in the Holy Trinity), that he came to earth as a human, taught, healed, died on the cross, and rose again, all so that we could have eternal life with him in Heaven.

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum

I read something the other day about Joseph not being mentioned in the birth records; not even a ‘midwife’. The Bible says Mary wrapped Jesus in the strips, and Mary laid him in the manger. Being a first time father, there might not have been much he could have contributed. In this song, Mary nodded. I love this mother-son bonding.

The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum

I don’t know what to comment about this part. If you have any comments, please leave them below. I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts.

I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,
(pum pum pum part)

As it was said before, there is nothing better than giving your best to God.

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.

This song ends with Jesus showing not just his approval – which could have been a nod – but his love, shown in a smile.

I love this song and really enjoyed looking into the meanings behind the lyrics.

What did you think?

Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below so it can be made well-rounded.

O Little Town Of Bethlehem – A Christmas Carol Study

With Christmas approaching, it seems like everyday I have another Christmas song playing in my head. In about a week there will be numerous Christmas Carol events playing on the TV, with thousands in the audience singing along. But how much do they know about the songs and their meanings?

It’s a sad state of affairs that most of the people in the audience probably aren’t even Christian, so I wanted to look at what they can learn about the religion from these songs, if they only opened their hearts and truly listened.

The first song I’m dissecting is O Little Town of Bethlehem. Have a listen, read my thoughts, and leave a comment.

Here we go…

O little town of Bethlehem,

As with pretty much every Christmas carol, this song is about the event of the birth of Jesus, who is both God, and the fulfilment of the promise made by God to save humanity from eternal death.

The Old Testament book of Micah, Chapter 5, verse 2, states:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times.”

This clearly points to Bethlehem – in the district of Ephrathah – as being the place where Jesus would be born. From Genesis 3:14-15, the first book in the Bible, we read about God telling Satan that Jesus would be born and they will battle, but Jesus will win. This all happened shortly after creation, and is definitely from ‘ancient times’.

Although Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, were from Nazareth, they had travelled to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus had issued a decree that every male of age needed to be recorded in a census (counting how many people there are). As Joseph’s line traced back to King David, he needed to go to David’s birth place – Bethlehem.

In Romans times, Bethlehem also wasn’t exactly a bustling metropolis, so his birth here is indicative of Jesus’ desire to not be seen as royalty by Earth standards.

How still we see thee lie!
Above your deep and dreamless sleep,
The silent stars go by.

With the census bringing many people to the area, it is often assumed that places such as inns (ancient-time hotels) would have been very busy.

Luke 2:7 states: “She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.”

I don’t know how quiet and still it would have been with so many people there, but it is showing that, despite the human birth of God right there with them, it was not heralded like royalty should be (especially God royalty).

Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light,

Star-of-Bethlehem

The Star of Bethlehem was prophesied long before this night. When the Israelites were leaving Egypt where they had been held as slaves for generations, God led them by a cloud during the day, and a cloud with fire during the night. As the creator, God has the power to change what he created. He did this with the Star of Bethlehem.

It was the Magi (not Kings, and there are no records of it being only three), that saw the star in the sky, and followed it, knowing it would lead to Jesus. These Magi, or Wise Men, were most likely Jewish scholars, who had studied the ancient texts very carefully, and recognised the sign from God that many others didn’t.

“The everlasting Light” is also another way of referring to Jesus, as John recorded in John 8:12: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.””

The hopes and fears of all the years,
Are met in thee tonight.

Since Adam and Eve first disobeyed God and caused humanity to be separated from everlasting life with God, there was obviously a lot to fear. But there was also a lot to hope for. As I said above, all the way back then, God promised that Jesus would come and we would get another chance to spend eternity with him.

O morning stars, together
Proclaim thy holy birth
And praises sing to God, the King,
And peace to men on earth.

While it is beautiful imagery to think of stars singing praises to their creator, it’s unlikely it actually happened. However, Jesus was – and is – someone to loudly and proudly proclaim our love for.

Again, when Adam and Eve committed the first sin, they caused the fall of EVERYTHING. Humans weren’t the only ones to suffer. Animals – who were all created to be vegetarians – began to fight and eat each other; the land became hard to work; and with God taking the step back we requested, the lack of perfection caused all of Earth (natural phenomenon) to ‘fall’ into chaos. With the redemption promised through Jesus, all of these would one day be restored to perfection.

For Christ is born of Mary,
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.

Mary-and-Baby-Jesus

This first line is a VERY important one. Note it does not say: ‘Mary and Joseph‘. It just says ‘Mary’. And why? Because Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. Even a cursory look at ancient texts from the time, you can see that families were recorded by the male lineage, not the female. God chose to divert from that because he was showing yet again that the Earth-way of doing things wasn’t the right and holy way.

Again looking at Genesis 3:14-15, God spoke to Satan, saying:

“Because you have done this, you are cursed
more than all animals, domestic and wild.
You will crawl on your belly,
groveling in the dust as long as you live.
And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

Over and over again in the Bible, there are prophecies that not only talk about an approaching event, but an event at a far away time. The bold and underlined identifiers were added by me to show that God was talking about Mary and Jesus. Jesus would be the foe of Satan, and Jesus was the offspring of Mary (not a man).

How silently, how silently,
The wondrous Gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

This ‘Gift’ is Jesus and his promise of everlasting life with God in Heaven. Being meek isn’t something humans often praise, but God glorifies those who do not boast or ‘play a part’ in the sinful nature of this world.

For those that receive Jesus and proclaim him as their saviour, Jesus and the Holy Spirit will enter us and work in us, and we will get our promised  – though not deserved – reward.

Where children pure and happy,
Pray to the blessed child.
Where misery cries out to thee,
Son of the mother mild;
Where charity stand watching,
And faith holds hope wide the door,
The dark night wakes,
The glory breaks,
And christmas once more.

jesus-loves-children-colourful

During his ministry, Jesus often spoke of the pureness of children: their love and faith. When children come to God and pray to him, it is the sweetest thing in the world.

Jesus came FOR us. He didn’t come to be served, he came to serve. “The dark night wakes”, the darkness leaves when the light (Jesus = Light) arrives.

This is a beautiful song that has a very important message. I hope you liked my ‘review’, and might listen a bit more closely to these songs and praise the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Don’t forget to check out the next in the series: ‘Away in a Manger’ HERE.