|The Meaning of Christmas
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Jesus "Christ" is known as the founder or central figure of "Christianity." Christmas is a Christian holiday on December 25 that commemorates the birth of Jesus. Ancient Romans also commemorated Jesus' birth by marking a division of the calendar still in use today. The years before Jesus' birth are marked as B.C. (Before Christ), and the years after Jesus' birth are marked A.D. (Anno Domini, which means, in the year of our Lord).
Christmas literally means the Mass (celebration) of Christ. "Christ" is a Greek word and title, meaning "anointed" or one set apart by God for a special purpose. "Christ" is equivalent to the Hebrew word "Messiah." Based on the words of ancient prophets, the first century Jewish people expected the arrival of the Messiah promised by God as a great deliver of the people.
Luke's biography records how Mary and her husband Joseph left their home in Nazareth to travel to Joseph's ancestral home, Bethlehem, to enroll in the census ordered by the Roman emperor, Augustus. Finding no room in inns in the town, they set up primitive lodgings in a stable. There Mary gave birth to Jesus in a manger or stall. Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, the home of the house of King David from which Joseph was descended, fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah. This is confirmed to Mary by a visit from angels and shepherds.
Matthew's biography begins by recounting the genealogy and virgin birth of Jesus, and then moves to the coming of the Wise Men from the Orient (likely China) to where Jesus was staying after his birth in Bethlehem. The wise men, or Magi, first arrived in Jerusalem and reported to the king of Judea, Herod the Great, that they had seen a star heralding the birth of a king. Further inquiry led them to Bethlehem of Judea and the location of Mary and Joseph. They presented Jesus with treasures of "gold, frankincense, and myrrh."
In Jesus' adult years, Jesus claimed to be this King, the Jewish Messiah (see: I am the King and Jewish Messiah). Ultimately, Jesus' claim to be Christ caused controversy and the religious trial leading to his execution. Christians commemorate Jesus' execution and believed return from the dead (resurrection) during "Easter."
Jesus also described His birth on earth as the most important "Good News," signifying that God Himself chose to come from heaven to earth to help make earth more like heaven (see: Good News: the Kingdom of God has Come to Earth).
Many people throughout the world have been prompted to ask questions about the life, death, and message of Jesus. Here's some of what you can investigate further at Jesus Institute, an educational resource about the person of Jesus: