There are some misconceptions about The Christmas Story and the birth of Jesus. One in particular, that after I learned the truth, really changed some feelings I had around Christmas and some struggles that I’ve had.
This episode, we’re looking at the birth of Christ through a Biblical, and Middle Eastern lens.
Learn and celebrate the true Christmas Story this season:
Merry Christmas everyone!
This season is about who He is, not about the consumerism, buying gifts, what you get when you wake up that morning…The reason we celebrate, is Jesus.
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Chris LoCurto: Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show where we discuss leadership and life and discover that business is what you do, not who you are.
Welcome to the show folks. We hope that you are having a fantastic Christmas season. I got to tell you, this is my absolute most favorite time of the year by far. Christmas for me is just a great time. I love giving gifts. I love celebrating I love having a huge Christmas tree. I always put up here at the office. Our Christmas party for the company is a big deal for me. I love the secrets.
I love, you know, the gifts that we give away and the stuff that we do and there’s this secret time as we get close to November, it’s like, okay, you can’t come around the computers. You can’t come in specific rooms because we are planning and it’s just a few of us that plan on some of this stuff and to everybody else it is a secret. They don’t get to know. They don’t get to know what’s going to happen at the party.
They don’t get to know what they’re going to have for a meal. They don’t get to know what they’re going to have for gifts, all that kind of fun stuff. So it’s a joy. So that is a big thing for me. Now I do want to share with you some things and it’s interesting. There’s things that I’ve known about Christmas for many, many years that I didn’t realize that a lot of people don’t know and so I wanted to kind of hit some of those myths and the biggest one towards the end is something that I just learned.
My leadership team and I, we just went and did a two week Bible study tour in Israel. This was not a vacation. This was not a tour of the Holy Land. This was a Bible study in the Holy Land in specific spots. Folks, let me just say, it was by far the most incredible trip I’ve ever done in my life by far.
I plan on being back there many more times and doing this more often. So here’s what I want to talk about. I want to talk about just some misconceptions that I think is stuff that you’d be interested to know and then one for me that really changed some feelings that I had around Christmas or or some struggle that I’ve had. When it talks about in the Bible that there was a star.
A lot of folks think that the star was actually when Jesus was born. It was not. Now there’s plenty of stars, but the star that guided the Magi actually didn’t come for probably about two years, so when the Magi I showed up. Jesus was probably about two years old. We lump it in. Whenever you see a Nativity scene, you see the star of Bethlehem, you see all of this stuff and you think, oh, all of this happened
at the same time, when you see Nativity scene, what do you see? You see the magi, the magi have shown up and Jesus is born and it all appears as though it all happened at the same time. It actually is in different segments. It’s at different times. So the star that drew the Magi in that the Magi followed actually didn’t show up for probably about two years and then they traveled all the way in following that star until they found until they came upon where Jesus was, and so we see this nativity scene where you know everybody’s showing up at this stable and that’s just not how that happened. That happened a little bit later on.
Another interesting myth is that there were three wise men. Now we don’t actually know. We’ve got a song that sings of we three kings, but we don’t actually know how many Magi there were and by the way usually, Magi didn’t travel as just individuals. They usually had people that came with them. Now there’s some interesting misconceptions about the Magi as well. These were people that studied the stars and the reason why they studied the stars is because back in those days they were looking for signs from God.
This is not the same thing as astrology today. Not the same thing. They were really literally looking for signs that God was saying something. They studied the stars so much that when something was different, they knew something was coming, they could tell. Which is what caused them to choose to follow the star. So the reason why we say three is because they brought three gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. That causes us to think, oh, it’s three different people. It could have been two. It could have been 17. We really don’t know. Another key piece that is a misconception, and we do celebrate on December 25th as we look at that date.
A lot of stuff is out there about why December 25th was chosen. It was most likely chosen because of a pagan holiday that was going on at the time. There’s little evidence to back that up. We don’t really know. So some people will come along and say, no, absolutely it was done because…we don’t really know. Here’s what we do know. We do know what the Bible says, and interestingly what the Bible says is that the shepherds were in the fields. Now, to understand what that means and folks, I got to tell you, just again this, this trip that we did, there’s so many Bible busting things, not in a bad way, in a good way, but there’s so many things that we don’t understand in a western culture because we don’t understand what an eastern culture is like. In an Eastern culture they read the Bible to see what the Bible says about God.
Here in the western culture, we believe everything is about us. We believe it’s our life. We believe we own our life. We believe, when it comes to what’s going on, it’s all about us, and in eastern culture they believe this is about God. We happen to be a part of His story, not the other way around. As you celebrate your holidays, which by the way holiday is taken from the holy days. As you read that, take a look and see what it says about God. Don’t be as focused on what it says about you. Focus your time on seeing what it says about Him and you will start to see all of the loving sides of God, how God loves us greatly, like sending his son to die for us. So as we take a look at what time of year that birth was, if we’re looking at God instead of looking at me through his lens and we’re reading his word and understanding what he’s saying or what’s going on about the time…
Then one of the things we discover is the sheep were in the fields. Well in Israel there is a time of year that the sheep are in the fields. We a lot of times don’t understand what even the landscape is. As we read through psalms and it talks about, you know, he leads me into green pastures. The word is not actually green pastures. The word is actually grassy pastures, but that doesn’t make sense to us. So we change it to green pastures. They don’t have green pastures in Israel, they have grassy pastures.
What does that mean? It’s these tufts of grass that come up from the ground. Well, obviously they come up from the ground, but it’s these little tufts of grass that are all around. It’s not like a lawn, like when you see it, it grows up in different spots and so the shepherd would lead their sheep through out these pastures and there’d be these tufts of grass and they go along and they eat the little tufts of grass.
The Bible also talks about, David talks about how he leads me along the paths of righteousness. Well, guess what? The paths of righteousness, what those are is when the harvest, when it’s in the growing season, so Israel has a lot of hills. When it’s in the growing season, the sheep do not get into the field. You don’t want them eating anything that’s growing in the field. So instead there’s all these paths on the hill sides that they walk. Those are called the paths of righteousness, and so a shepherd would lead them along the paths of righteousness, where to a spot that would have the grass that they could eat on because they could not be down in the fields.
Because when you do have a field, you’re filling it with as much stuff as you can grow, like barley, wheat. So interestingly the Bible says that the sheep, the shepherds and the sheep were in the fields, the shepherd does not take the sheep down into the fields until after harvest, which means, and harvest happens in the spring time where so much of our harvesting and we’ve got stuff that happens early on, but a lot of our harvest happens later in the year as well, so that means that the fields would have been gleaned that they would’ve already been harvested.
So the sheep being down in the field means that Jesus was most likely born in the spring,
not in the fall. This is easy to backup biblically because that is something where if it was in December, then that means that the fields are full and the shepherds are taking their sheep down and eating from the barley. That’s no Bueno. That would actually not be good. That would get somebody hurt. So it’s very possible that Jesus was born in the spring, probably a considerably warmer time than we imagined. So you hear, there’s things that say that Jesus was born in one of the hardest winters and all that kind of stuff, and maybe you haven’t ever heard that, but some people come up with this kind of stuff. Nope. Chances are, and this is a 99 point nine percent chance that he was born in the springtime, so it actually would have been decently warm. Here’s another misconception that has to do with the understanding of the timing of year. The reason that they were coming back to Bethlehem is because there was a census.
You don’t travel on a census during the rainy season because here’s what has to happen. All of the men must go back to their home town. All of the men must go back to their hometown. You’re not going to call a census during the winter when it’s rainy season, right? In fact, as you read in the Bible that talks about during King David’s time in the spring when kings go off to war, the kings go off to war in the spring time. Why? Because the harvest is done.
So they’ve got food for their warriors, but it’s not raining, so they’re not having to battle in muddy situations and try and walk through mud and try and walk through the rain. Once it gets into the dry season, it almost never rains in the dry season, so you don’t have to worry about all that rain. So the census is called, they’re traveling to their hometown.
It’s going to be dry, it’s going to be during the dry time of year. It would be incredibly cruel to have a census and have all these millions of people traveling across Israel, the whole country of Israel through rain and mud and all that kind of junk. Now here’s where it gets to the part that absolutely rocked my world. For me, in my mind I’ve always hated the thought that he was born in this stable out in the cold. And a lot of people believe that he was born in a stable.
In Israel they don’t really have…today you’ll find some stables that they’ll put like donkeys in and stuff like that, but where the sheep are, it’s actually not stables, it’s caves. A shepherd would take the sheep out and if he goes too far and he can’t get them back home, he would stay in a cave with the sheep and he would sleep at the door of the cave and protect the sheep from getting out and wolves from getting in.
But here’s the deal. We think that because the Bible says that there was no room in the inn, not at the inn, in the inn. Now this is going to rock your world. This is going to what we were, what we were saying over there. We would have our comment every time something like this would come up. We said, that just wrecked my face off. This is going to wreck your face off. Folks. The word inn has two meanings. One would be like an in where you go and stay, but it also has another meaning. That is like guest room. Yes, a guest room. So here’s what you have to understand. This is going to wreck your face off. We think of Joseph and Mary and Jesus as being completely alone, that as they travel and they very well most likely are traveling alone. They have to go back to Bethlehem.
Why? That’s where Joseph is from. That’s his hometown. So he’s required to go back to Bethlehem and take part in the census there. Mary has to go with him to his hometown. Keep in mind all men must return to their hometown. Well, in Israel you have decent size families. So where is Joseph going? He’s not going to Bethlehem to hang out in a hotel.
So if I was called back to Lake Tahoe, I don’t even have family there. That’s still in Truckee. I don’t have family that’s still up there to go hang out there. I’d go back and I would find a hotel and I’d have to stay in a hotel. That’s not what’s happening here. Instead what happens is is the families come back and they stay with the families, so we actually walked through what a house in that time looked like and what the structure.
Now a big important thing for you to get as I go forward on this, something that you need to understand, here in a Western culture, we are very much about form. In an Eastern culture, they’re very much about function. What is the function? So if I was to ask you to describe a pen, you would say, oh long. It’s got a clicky thing, it’s got a cylinder and it’s, you know, all that kind of fun stuff. If you ask somebody in an Eastern culture, what is this thing, this pen, they would say, that is how I communicate thought. I use that to communicate ideas. So what is the function of the thing is how they look at stuff. Where we look at the form. Is it pretty? I literally was looking at houses that if you go back into, you know, 1500 years bc, the houses that the Israelites were building and Egypt look a lot like the houses they build today, why? Function.
They’re more concerned about the function of the thing. What do you do with a house? You spend a lot of your time outside of the house if you’re, if you have sheep and if you have livestock, you’re out taking care of that stuff. You don’t spend a whole ton of time in the house. So when you look at a house in the time of Jesus’s birth, and I had the amazing blessing of being able to step inside a replica of what that’s like when you walk in the door. It’s interesting.
There’s only a couple of rooms on the main floor and as you walk through the door, you take a couple of steps up. Might be a ladder, might be a stair, but it’s usually a ladder and that is a flat floor to your left and in that area is the kitchen. It’s got the stove, it’s got everything that you need for food, all that kind of stuff, but also on that floor starting closest to the door and going away from it is where the father sleeps closest to the door.
The protector sleeps closest to the door and then in age essentially you know you’ve got the mother and the rest of the kids going across the floor. That’s where the family sleeps. They are spending most of their time out taking care of sheep, taking care of, you know, whatever the livestock is that they have or whatever they’re doing, and then they come home, they have dinner and that’s where they sleep. They get up and get back out again. Now interestingly, in that room at the back of that, so if you walk in the door, if you keep walking straight forward, there’s this wall and you can get around it on the sides and it’s open at the top. Behind that wall is a another room that’s about almost the same footprint as the area where the family sleeps in the kitchen os and all that that is. Get ready for it folks. The inn.
That’s the inn. That’s the guest room. Now, we aren’t as big on hospitality here and in Western culture as they are in an eastern culture, hospitality is massive in an eastern culture. There are so many instances that we experience hospitality that we never would have expected. Why? Because that’s not how we do it in a western culture, in an eastern culture, it is a sin if you are not being hospitable, and if you look at the Bible, there are many times God is upset because people choose not to be hospitable.
He considers it sin as well in many different situations. Right? And and you may not have been able to read that yet or maybe you haven’t seen that. So when you have a house back in those days, you have a room to take care of people. It’s the inn. In the Greek word. It’s the inn. That is where the guests stay. So here’s what you have to understand. Go back in this time, 2000 some odd years ago, 2000, probably 2024 years ago, probably about six BC is when Jesus is actually born somewhere between four to six BC. And we know that because Herod dies around 4 BC, if you go back in that time, all the men of Joseph’s household, any men that are from Joseph’s household are heading back. So as they show up at Joseph’s family’s home in Bethlehem, guess what? Other relatives have made it there before he has.
And they are staying in the inn. So the house is full. This is a small house. These aren’t huge houses because think utilitarian, right? Thank utility. What’s the function of this thing? You’re just coming in and sleeping and eating and you know, getting out of the rain and that kind of stuff. The rest of the time you’re out doing stuff. So he comes home and there’s no room in the inn. So where does he stay? This is the part that will wreck your face off if you are a shepherd, which most people are, and you do not want to lose your sheep, then you build a house. And under the main floor is where you keep the sheep at nighttime.
So when you open up the front door, you’re not actually on the main floor, you’re actually below the main floor a few feet, like about three and a half, four feet, and dug down into the ground. So under the main floor is these holes, these big holes where when you opened the door, you run your sheep in the house, they go under the main floor. Well, there is a ton of rock. We always look at the manger for Jesus being born in as being this wooden little crib type thing. That’s not what they put the sheep’s feed and water in, they actually would cut it out of rock and it would be this trough out of rock that they would cut and that’s what the sheep would drink out of and eat out of. So since there was no room left in the main floor of the house, which again is not that big, Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus are underneath the main floor inside of this house full of people.
And then she has this child that she lays him in the manger inside, not in a barn, not in a stable. Our Lord and Savior was born in a house full of people. You know that baby Jesus got passed around to all the women, probably to the men as well where there was family, where there was love. He was born into that. That for me rocked my world because I’ve always thought of my savior being born alone. You know, obviously with Joseph and Mary out there in the cold, in this cave, I’ve always heard of it as being in a cave with bad weather, and for me it was a incredible blessing to know that as a baby he was born into a home full of people, full of family.
So for you, at this time of year, I am not the kind of person who goes against giving gifts, goes against the celebration. I love the celebration. I love the time together. I love the time with family and friends and celebrating. God loves to celebrate. He really, truly loves to celebrate, I love the celebration time, but there’s something that we have to realize and that is why that baby boy was born into this world. He was born into this world to save us, to give us the option of not spending an eternity away from God, but instead an eternity with God.
The very person who was born in that situation, is the person who made you, he’s the guy who owns you, period. When you read his manual, it is not a book about you. It’s a book about him.
And from the very beginning to the very end, it has one common theme and that is the redemption of your soul. That is the reason that child was born. He was born so that the end of his physical life here on earth gives us an eternity with him in heaven. So celebrate folks, love on your family, love on your friends. Those of you that are leaders, those of you that are business owners, love on your team members, love on them. Take care of them. Choose this time of year to glorify the one person who has control over your eternity.
Choose this time of year to glorify the God who is so crazy in love with you that he sent his son to have the world’s worst death and the world’s most embarrassing birth. Make that choice today. Celebrate like crazy, but make sure that you’re focusing on the reason for the season.
For those of you that are parents, represent who he is, what this time is for, that it is not about the consumerism, that it is not about buying gifts, that it is not about what you get when you wake up that morning, try and decrease the emphasis on that and actually make that separate from the reason that we celebrate, which is Jesus. So folks, I just want to say Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas to you.
Merry Christmas to your families. Merry Christmas to your team. Merry Christmas to your leadership. I pray that he blesses you. You don’t know this, but I pray for you guys a lot. I often pray if you’re listening to this show, I’m praying for you. I’m praying that God blesses you greatly. I’m praying that he opens his floodgates and pours out his blessings upon you. I pray that you have a relationship with God.
I pray that you grow in that relationship with God. I pray that you experience his love. I pray that you experience his, his grandeur, how glorious he is, so all in all folks, I want to say again, merry Christmas. Blessings to you. Praise God that you guys are a part of what we do, that you allow us to speak into your lives, that you allow us to teach and guide and direct and help you.
We praise all the folks that have that have come through any of the programs here that have chosen to be vulnerable in their lives, to get growth, to learn more about making it a better life, making it about better leadership, making a better business. We pray for blessings on you guys as well, and so thank you for spending this time with me. Take this information. Decide on what your Christmas Day is going to look like. Praise God.
Show him the glory. Show him love, and show his love to those around you. Thank you folks. As always, take this information, change your leadership, Change Your Business, change your life, and join us on the next episode.