The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
Over a billion people from every one of the earth’s seven continents will, in a multitude of ways, celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ on December 25, 2013. In the run-up to Christmas every one of them will have countless occasions to say one to another Merry Christmas – each warming the other with the knowing glow that comes from a well-known popular tradition.
The music, the parties, the gestures of love and kindness each in their own way reflect how we remember together the benefits of the birth of Jesus the Christ. It has not always been this way. At the beginning it didn’t even look like the child would survive the wrath of the king of his country. We read from the New Testament that Jesus did not enter a welcoming world:
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ – Matthew 2:1-6.
King Herod had a problem. He had asked the wise men to tell him of the whereabouts of the child. Moved by an angel of warning, the wise men hid the secret of the Christ child. A new King had appeared, and Herod had no idea who he was or when he would assert his authority. Herod felt threatened. He needed a plan to preserve his power. Desperate, Herod resolved to take drastic action:
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more. – Matthew 2:16-18.
Joseph and Mary, the parents of Jesus, were warned by an angel and escaped Herod’s evil schemes. This is extraordinary — as are the many other miracles associated with the life and teachings of His Holiness the Son of God. However none of these compare with the lasting influence of His teachings.
Baha’is believe that Jesus, a divine Manifestation of God, revealed again the Christ spirit, so that the souls of men could reflect more perfectly the attributes of God on earth:
Jesus Christ was an Educator of humanity. Galen, the Greek physician and philosopher who lived in the second century A.D., wrote a treatise upon the civilization of nations. He was not a Christian, but he bore testimony that religious beliefs exercise an extraordinary effect upon the problems of civilization. In substance he said, “There are certain people among us, followers of Jesus, the Nazarene, who was killed in Jerusalem. These people are truly imbued with moral principles which are the envy of philosophers. They believe in God and fear Him. They have hopes in His favors; therefore, they shun all unworthy deeds and actions and incline to praiseworthy ethics and morals. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p 86.
The wonder of the Christmas season reflects the spirit of Christ’s sublime purpose in the lofty notions and countless commendable acts of service humans render one to another. This conspicuous testament to the sovereignty of God shows that the passage of over 2000 years has only made Christ’s message more compelling. In fact, had you lived at that time, odds are you would not have been able to imagine Christ’s authority and influence stretching to encompass the earth as it does now.
Read the next article in the series: The Life-Giving Breaths of the Messiah