Today is Christmas, which literally denotes it as the Day of Christ’s Mass. Like it or not, today is the day we celebrate the birthday of the man we call Jesus of Nazareth. If he were alive today he would be very, very old.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. – Luke 2:8-14
Even if you believe that the Bible is a work of fiction, you have to admit that it’s a helluva story.
It’s not entirely original. There are several themes in the story of Jesus that appear in other, older stories from the same region, chief among them the story of Moses. A prophesy of a deliverer, a chosen one, a lowly birth, a jealous king ordering the deaths of male infants, a life in exile, and the eventual triumph of destiny. It is a common theme in Western Civilization, from Sargon the Great to Harry Potter. Even the death and resurrection of Jesus has a antecedent in the Osiris myth. As for the virgin birth, Mary would not be the first or last woman to offer that explanation for a pregnancy.
Even a true believer would have to admit that there are some gaps in the Bible that only faith can fill. Despite numerous records dating back to that time, none of them conclusively proves that the man we call Jesus ever existed, let alone confirms his divine nature.
To me, common sense says that there was historical Jesus – a religious leader who made such a big impression on his contemporaries that they started a new religion based on his life and teachings. This new religion survived the destruction of Israel and repeated attempts by Rome to stamp it out.
In the two millennia since the historical Jesus walked the Earth the religion has grown and spread. There have been many things done in His name over the years, not all of them good. But even if Jesus was just a mere mortal his teachings still have value.
Besides that, it’s a helluva story.