How Seeing the Holy Land Changes Our View of the Christmas Story
As we take part in the Christmas season once again, we think over the old story of Jesus and the manger. Has this account grown stale for you over the years? Do you have trouble mustering the same energy at Christmastime you had when you were a kid? Seeing the Holy Land for yourself is one way to find new meaning in the tale of Christmas’ origin. How does seeing the Holy Land change our view of the Christmas story? We’re glad you asked.
Where Can We Find the Biblical Story of Christmas?
For the simplest and most straightforward account of Jesus’ birth, read Luke 2:1-21. It is in this testimony we hear the historical setting, important individuals, and spiritual significance of it all. If you’ve never read it before, these 21 verses are posted below.
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 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. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” (KJV)
In addition to Luke’s account, we can also read about Jesus being born in Matthew 1:18-25 and the visit from the Magi in the following chapter of Matthew.
Separating Myth and Historical Accounts
Much has happened in the 2000+ years since the birth of Christ. As the Bible made its way through each country and culture and was finally passed down to us, different customs have been tagged onto the Biblical message and certain ways of reading the story of Jesus’ birth have cemented themselves in our minds. Just look at your nativity set. There’s a good chance you’ll see the Magi in attendance for the birth of the Messiah even though they couldn't possibly have made it in time. Reading the Bible and seeing the Holy Land allows you to separate myth from history.
Why Visiting the Holy Land Changes Us
We have come a long way as a society when it comes to technology. A hundred years ago, you would have been lucky to see a few low-grade photographs of distant places like the Middle East. Now, not only do we have the ability to enjoy VR experiences to capture just about any setting in the world, it’s easier than ever before to see these foreign lands in person.
Seeing the Holy Land with your own eyes takes the words on the pages of the Bible and blows them up into a life-changing educational and spiritual experience. You see the cities of the Bible, sail across the water Christ walked upon, and visit the very birthplace of our Savior. When we see these places come to life, we are forced to contemplate what it means in our own lives. How do these holy sites affect our view of Christmas? We have made this important holiday into something it never was, but maybe we can still find the truth of the season by studying the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Santa’s workshop is yet to be found. Sightings of reindeer flying are nowhere to be found. The Holy land, however, holds the truth of the testimonies proclaiming the “reason for the season.”
Find Out More in “Mysteries of the Messiah”
Do you want to uncover all the Christmas story has to offer? Are you tired of each yuletide season passing you by without the magic of your youthful celebrations? The easiest first step you can take toward changing all of that is by tuning in for the new Premier Israel podcast “Mysteries of the Messiah.” Each week, Rabbi Jason Sobel walks through the facts of the Christmas story, from the importance of Jesus’ birthplace to the customs and language of the Hebrew people. Along with these informative breakdowns, Rabbi Jason also interviews pastors, musicians, authors, and experts to talk about what the Holy Land has to offer us today. Tune in on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts today!
For a taste of what “Mysteries of the Messiah” can offer, click on the video below.