Evangelical Christians claim that they believe the Bible is true. They claim that what it says is important and relevant to their lives. Because of this, they claim that they strive to live according to the truths found in Scripture.
Unfortunately, though, many of us are a little ignorant when it comes to knowing what the Bible actually says.
This is really a shame–especially for those who have been Christians for years and have been going to church/listening to sermons/reading the Bible for any length of time.
One of the easiest ways to see this is to examine what people think about the Christmas Story compared to what is actually in the Bible. Many believers have a lot of non-biblical thoughts about what transpired at Jesus’ birth because of the inaccuracies found in Nativity scenes, Christmas plays, and even Christmas Carols.
Here are a few of the inaccuracies (in no particular order) that many people believe are found in the Bible, but are not. I will include the Scripture references when appropriate and welcome any additional inaccuracies or questions.
1. Mary rode on a donkey to Bethlehem. Sorry, but there is nothing in Scripture that states Mary rode a donkey or anything else to Bethlehem. This is a small issue, but it aggravates me for some strange reason.
2. The Innkeeper told Mary and Joseph that there was no room in the inn. Wrong. Luke 2:7 states that Mary and Joseph laid Jesus in a manger “because there was no room for them in the inn.” There is no mention of who told them this. Strangley, many of the Christmas plays I have seen even have the innkeeper’s wife getting into the act. Sheesh.
3. Mary gave birth in a stable. Nothing in Scripture states this. Again, Luke 2:7 states that Jesus was laid in a manger, but it does not say anything about a stable. Some people assume this since a manger is a feed trough for “farm animals”, but there is no Biblical evidence for this assumption. Others have stated that it could have been in a cave of some sort since caves were use by many people of that time as stables. Really, though, the manger could have been anywhere.
4. There were animals present at the brith of Jesus. No evidence for this either. Sorry, animal lovers.
5. The baby Jesus went to “sleep on the hay.” Luke 2:7 said that he was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger–no mention of hay.
6. The Angels sang to the shepherds about the birth of Jesus. No Biblical support for this. First, the Angel of the Lord appears. Luke 2:10 states: “And the angel said unto them” and Luke 2:13 states: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying.” Said and saying, not sang and singing.
7. The star was present above Jesus the night of His birth. This is a tough one, but there is no Scriptural reference for it. Look at Luke 2:1-20–there is no mention of a star. When the angel tells the shepherds about the sign of Jesus’ birth, he says “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. (v. 12)” They were not told to look for a bright star, but to look for a baby in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. Matthew chapter 2 is where we first see a mention of a star. In Matthew 2:2 the wise mens states that they “have seen the star in the east.” Does this mean that they saw the star while the star was in the east (where they were from) or that they could see it from where they were from? Good question that I don’t know the answer to. However, Matthew 2:9 says that when they left Jerusalem and headed toward Bethlehem that “the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.” The star was not stationary over Jesus, but moved ahead of the wise men, leading them to Jesus until it finally stood over him.
8. There were three wise men. Inaccurate. The wise men brough three gifts, but it does not say that there were only three men. It could have been many more.
9. The three wise men were present at the birth of Jesus. Not so. Matthew 2:9 and Matthew 2:11 both talk of “the young child,” not a newborn baby. Also, Matthew 2:11 says that the young child was in a house.
Some of these inaccuracies (like the Jesus being born in a stable or the innkeeper telling Mary and Joseph about the lack of room in the inn) may have indeed happened. But, these things are not in the Bible.
There are more inaccuracies out there, of course. However, with this short list you can probably see that many Christians are a little messed up when it comes to one of the most important parts of the Bible. This may seem a little trivial to you (and it may indeed be), however it shows that some of us who follow Jesus may not be a Biblically literate as we should be.
The remedy for this is for us to see how privileged we are to have Bibles and actually study them instead of leaving them on a shelf until Sunday morning.
Get your Bible out and read the Christmas story for youself. You can find it in the first and second chapters of Matthew and Luke. You may just see things there that you’ve seen before for the first time–if you know what I mean.