Easter is the only real Christian holiday. Christmas? Well, it is true that Jesus seems to have been born. But everyone is born. What's the big deal? It does seem to be special, that God elected to become human. It may be however that there was no choice in the matter. I don't suppose it's terribly instructive to rehearse the doctrinal debates as to whether or not the Second Person of the Trinity was eternally the Son, or whether He became the Son. As the Buddhists say, it is speculation that tends not to enlightenment. If He was eternally the Son, it would be Son as a title, a position, rather than a statement of biology. Any further comment would be supposition. Did God have a choice in the matter? He doesn't have a choice, in anything that has to do with His nature. He must be true to it. So if it was in His nature that God must become Man, then so be it. Perfection isn't a choice, with God, it's a necessity. Point being, Jesus did become the Son for our purposes, one Christmas morning.
What we can be sure of is that Christmas was not late December of 1 BC. Absolutely not. More likely 4 BC, what with Herod still being alive. As for winter, Judean shepherds did not tend the flocks late of a night, in winter. It would have been autumn, or spring. Which? I am rusty on the details. But as memory serves, what better time, than Succoth, the October Feast of Tabernacles? The Jews leave the comfort of their own homes to take up temporary residence in rustic booths. It was a sort of carnival, recalling the years in the Wilderness when God provided for every need.
Well? What did Jesus do, but come so that the greatest need be provided? Enter into his rest, and all that. At that time, He himself would have taken up a temporary residence, in the temporary, the mortal body of a man. Later, the hut would be traded in for a mansion. As it were. Our mortal bodies are dominated by mind, by soul -- in Greek, psuche, psyche -- in Hebrew, nephesh, vitality -- in Latin, anima. The essential idea of the resurrection contains the idea of the resurrection body -- the perfect, the immortal, the spirit-controlled physical body, as of Adam before the Fall. As I figure it, a spirit-controlled body differs from these miserable soul-controlled bodies in that everything that is merely physical is utterly subject to the control of spirit. In practical terms this would mean that the body could pass through solid walls, as Jesus did in the upper room -- that type of body so perfectly controls even the spinning of its electrons that solidity presents no meaningful obstacle. Likewise with instantaneous travel -- technical raptures, where the body is here, then there: in a quantum universe, we know such things are possible. Spirit is trans-dimensional, and doesn't violate but rather transcends the laws of the three (and a half) dimensions of the physical universe. I seem to have touched on this theme, here. Upshot is that there is no magic, and there are very few miracles. Almost everything makes sense, given the proper axioms.
Pretty cool, these feasts, these seven feasts of the Old Testament. They all have some really cool meaning. It's one of the reasons I'm Christian. It makes so much sense. I like things that make sense. It takes research to discover this, of course -- so the flat statement, the Bible makes sense ... well, that's likely to provoke skepticism. I like skepticism. I like conviction, too. One should follow the other.
So much for Christmas. A silly holiday. But Easter has meaning. It is everything that Christianity is. The Cross, and the Empty Tomb. Both are necessary. And today, Wednesday, is the day He died. I virtually prove it, here. I say "virtually" because evidence is not proof. It's only proof when there is agreement, and I have no power over whether or not you agree. But the more rational the story becomes, the easier it is to believe. That's why I spent some time, years ago, working out the chronology of Easter Week. A careful reading reveals what seem to be inconsistencies. A more careful reading clarifies matters. I read most carefully.
Well. I haven't said anything new here. A fair bit of it was covered in Still Serious, lo these many years ago. But Easter should not go by unnoticed. And this day, of infinite pain -- well, we might pause for a moment and remember that Jesus felt all the pain that hell has stored up for you, if that's the route you choose. That's the price of the ransom. That's what Christians mean when they say the debt has been paid. It's all very legalistic. It's all very rational. Almost karmic. And it just doesn't seem right, to pass by that Cross, on this day, what with Jesus up there suffering and dying for me and for you, without some thought on the whole matter.
All that talk about the Gospel, the Good News. The Bad News is that the whole world is corrupt and fallen and damned. The Good News is that it doesn't have to be. So when I was a little boy, and heard about Good Friday, the day Jesus died, I wondered what was so good about it. That "good" is no doubt "God," as "goodbye" is really "God be w' ye". How British. But it turns out to be good, too. As all necessary things must be good, in this best of all possible worlds.