During December, I enjoy giving small groups A Christmas IQ Test. The questions are based on the Biblical accounts of Christ’s birth.
People are often surprised to discover that much of what they “know” about Christmas actually comes from TV specials, greeting cards, holiday songs, legend, and tradition. Today I invite you to test your Christmas intelligence quotient. Is your knowledge about “the reason for the season” based on Matthew and Luke or Currier and Ives?
Q1: Christmas has always been celebrated on December 25.
A1: False. No one knows the exact date of Jesus’ birth. In a prior calendar, December 25 originally marked the Winter Solstice. The church “baptized” the date to celebrate the advent of “the light of the world” during the fourth century.
Q2: What did the innkeeper say to Mary and Joseph?
A2: According to tradition, the innkeeper said, “There is no room in the inn.” Despite countless children’s plays to the contrary, however, the innkeeper does not have any speaking lines in the Biblical accounts.
Q3: Who saw the star in the east?
A3: The wise men saw the star in the east. Many Christmas cards show the shepherds following the star to the manger; however, the shepherds went to Bethlehem after the angelic chorus announced the Christ’s birth.
Q4: How many wise men made the journey?
A4: Most people know the correct answer is “three.” Most people are wrong! The Bible never mentions how many wise men came to see the newborn king. They DID bring three gifts. By the way, they were not kings, either. So the carol “We Three Kings” is inaccurate in every detail!
Q5: What is frankincense and myrrh?
A5: My favorite response is that frankincense is “an eastern monster story!” In reality, it is a precious perfume. Myrrh is a spice often used for preparing bodies for burial—a strange gift for a newborn. Even at his birth, the babe of Bethlehem was also the Christ of the cross and the Lord of the empty tomb.
Q6: Where did the wise men find the baby Jesus?
A6: Months and even years may have passed before the wise men arrived. According to the Matthew’s account, they found the Holy Family in a home and not a stable.
Q7: Which animals does the Bible say were present at Jesus’ birth?
A7: Don’t throw away your manger scene’s barnyard menagerie, but the Gospels say nothing about any animals at the nativity.
Q8: Where do I find the Christmas story in the Bible to check these answers?
A8: Matthew and Luke contain the stories of Jesus’ birth. Matthew focuses upon Joseph and includes the wise men. Luke focuses on Mary and describes the angels appearing to the shepherds.
During Christmas, many families enjoy the tradition of reading holiday books together. In addition to other seasonal classics, I encourage you to include the Gospel accounts of the first Christmas in your reading time as well.
By the way, according to the author, there WILL be an end-of-the-book test!
Thanks for this post. I believe we Christians all too often severely underestimate the significance of the Christmas miracle. C.S. Lewis summarized the significance well in his book “Miracles” where he wrote, “The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this… There is no question in Christianity of arbitrary interferences just scattered about. It relates not a series of disconnected raids on Nature but the various steps of a strategically coherent invasion-an invasion which intends complete conquest and ‘occupation.’… In the Christian story God descends to re-ascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity… But He goes down to come up again and bring the ruined world up with Him.”
Given the overwhelming significance of the Incarnation miracle, the least we can do as Christians is know the story accurately. Thanks!
Nice quote–you’ll probably hear it in an upcoming sermon. I’m SURE that I will give you credit . . .in my head! 🙂
Really food for thought. I thought I had the whole nativity story in place. From this reading it does not seem so. I will now have to read it all over again. Thanks for your thoughts.
Bill, do you know what vocation the wise men were? They were firemen! I know, because the Bible says they came from a far!
GRRROOOOAAAAANNNNN. And did you know that they actually drove a Honda? It says they came in one Accord! 🙂