Baby Jesus For Ransom
Some thoughts about the biblical nativity story
Baby Jesus For Ransom
I was driving with some friends the other night, and we came upon a cluster of police cars, lights flashing, surrounding a vehicle in front of a church.
On the church lawn was a small nativity scene. Joseph. Mary. And a cradle.
An empty cradle.
The baby Jesus was missing. So…we surmised that the perp must’ve been some mischievous kids trying to steal Christ from the manger.
Which begs the question: What, exactly, would you do with a stolen baby Jesus? Were they simply trying to finish out their own nativity display without having to pay for the plastic child? Would they prop it up in an apartment or dorm room as a gag? Or were they gonna hold Jesus for ransom? You know…call the church and extort some offering money for the return of the savior?
Yeah, that's kinda "out there." But no more "out there" than the story of the nativity itself.
Only two gospels even mention Christ’s birth, and they were written more than a generation after Jesus’ death. The accounts of the biblical nativity are also wildly contradictory. A few examples
* The book of Matthew has 28 generations between David and the birth of Jesus. Luke has 41 generations for the same period.
* Matthew says Jesus’ grandfather (on Joseph’s side) is Jacob, while Luke says the grandfather is Heli.
* Matthew 1:20 says the angel appeared to Joseph. Luke 1:28 says the angel appeared before Mary.
* If you believe the bible, you believe that Mary traveled 60 miles to Bethlehem over rough terrain while 9 months pregnant. Ask any woman who has experienced the ninth month of pregnancy about that one.
* Matthew 2:11 says Jesus’ birth took place in a house. Luke’s account says manger (feeding trough), because there was no room in the inn.
* Matthew 2:13-16 says Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath. Luke 2:39 says Mary and Joseph returned to Nazareth, with no mention of Herod, a death decree or Egypt.
* The book of Luke says that John The Baptist was a relative of Jesus and knew he was the divine Christ, even in the womb (Luke 1:41,44). But in the same book (Luke 7:19-23), the adult John The Baptist didn’t know who Jesus was.
* And the virgin birth? Not so much. Matthew apparently misread the Greek Septuagint of Isaiah 7:14, (mistranslating the Hebrew word “almah,” which doesn’t mean “virgin.” It translates, “young woman of marriageable age” or “young maiden.”) The virginity angle was mostly likely added to the story because, culturally, it was often claimed that important people had miraculous births. Plato was said to be the offspring of the god Apollo. Alexander The Great was said to have been conceived when a thunderbolt impregnated his mother, Olympias. Buddha’s birth story includes elephants in the sky. Confucius has dragons in the Heavens.
* The three kings? In the book of Matthew, they were magoi (astronomers), not kings. There’s no mention of “three,” and the entire account contradicts Luke’s account, which has Jesus being visited by local shepherds.
* The December 25th birth date? Well…Jesus certainly wasn’t born in wintertime, because Bethlehem shepherds would only be tending flocks from mid-March to mid-November, never during the cold mid-winter season. The early Romans celebrated “Natalis Invicti” (birthday of the sun) on December 25th as a Winter Solstice festival, so it’s likely that Christians claimed the date of this pagan holiday as their own. (Research the Christmas tree if you’d like to learn about another pagan tradition.)
I doubt the mischievous vandals were considering any of this when they did a “smash and grab” of the plastic Savior Baby.
I also doubt that the church that erected the display has done any real thinking about the Nativity Story that the display represents. To them, it’s tradition. It’s true. It’s safe. It’s comforting. After all, who wouldn’t want to “sleep in heavenly peace.”
We should all be motivated to know why we embrace our traditions and beliefs. We should all seek truth, including the hard truth.
And we should all be on the lookout for a small, plastic baby Jesus. About 26 inches long, with blue eyes, white “swaddled” attire and a 110-volt electrical plug coming out of his feet.
I know a church that’s lookin’.