The monk Dionysius Exiguus does not receive as much credit as he deserves. His mathematical calculations in the fifth century ushered in not only the BC/AD timeline but also valid determinations for the equinox, solstice, leap year, moon and solar cycles, and Easter. The Holy Bible is full of symmetry and order by God’s design, and Exiguus seems to have uncovered the mystery of Christ’s birthday with a divine order which rings with profound simplicity. It was passed on by tradition that Jesus died on the same day Mary conceived. The announcement by Gabriel to Mary, then, occurred on March 25, which under the Julian calendar of that time was considered the spring equinox, the day when the light and darkness are equal. Exiguus
[[Some of the material about Exiguus is repeated from earlier articles (“A Case for the 25th o December” and “On the Eighth Day”). Do you want to leave it all as it is or do you want me to edit such that there is no repeated material?]]
made this calculation based on the Hebrew 14/15 Nissan date for the crucifixion of Jesus at age thirty-three. This led him to then calculate that Jesus’s birth would occur nine months later on December 25, which under the Julian calendar of that time was considered the winter solstice, the day when light begins to increase. He further concludes, based on the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth in Luke 1, that John the Baptist was conceived on September 24 (the fall equinox under the Julian calendar), and born nine months later on June 24 (the summer solstice under the Julian calendar), when light began to decrease. The apostle John records an interesting statement of John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30, KJV-BRG). John is referring to Jesus, of course, as he answers questions about the so-called competition between his disciples and those of Jesus. Jesus Christ does increase: “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52, KJV-BRG). John the Baptist decreased for sure—Herod had his head cut off (see Matt. 14:1–12).
“The heavens declare the glory of God,” writes the psalmist (Ps. 19:1, NIV). What better way to show man His glory through the coming of the Son of Man and Son of God than to use the days of solstice and equinox (assuming Exiguus was correct) and the exact timing of heavenly bodies in motion all designed with perfect engineering and physics and chemistry by the Chief Designer and Creator of all! The psalmist again writes: “The day is thine, the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun. Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter” (Psalm 74:16–17, KJV-BRG). This creation includes the winter and summer solstices and each equinox. John the Baptist got it right, declaring that “The one who comes from heaven is above all” (John 3:31, NIV). I hear skeptics say, “Everybody knows that we don’t know the exact day Jesus was born.” My response is, “C’mon man!” Can they think that God has been exact, unchanging (not like shifting shadows), and perfect in every way but just made one small mistake regarding being clear on Christ’s birthday? No way!
When it comes to Christmas Day, we need the faith of the Pharisee lawyer, Gamaliel. This attorney of the law concluded in Acts 5:38–40: “‘Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.’ His speech persuaded them” (NIV). Christmas Day, as Christ’s day of birth, has been celebrated by decree for at least 1,700 years. If the December 25 date were of pagan origin, it would have failed already. God has ordained the day through the prophesied gift of His Son, and nothing will ever stop Christmas on December 25 from being the day Christ was born. Christmas Day has been ordained by divine display in heaven and earth to the glory of God! Skeptics need to get off the sideline of doubt and excuses for why Christ’s birthday is unknown and get onboard faith’s wagon of belief and trust: “I [God] have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain…. You are my son; today [Christmas Day] I have become your father” (Psalm 2:6–7, NIV).
Exiguus does all of his calculations “from the year of the incarnation of our Lord.” Understanding that my year of birth, 1947, is exactly the number of years from Christ’s birth glorifies Him. Whether to believe or not believe is one’s choice, but the fact that 8 billion birthdays (earth’s estimated population) point to Jesus cannot be disputed. Anno Domini, in the year of our Lord, rings loud and true as we bring in each new AD year with the historical circumcision and naming of Jesus on the eighth day from December 25, Christmas Day, to January 1, New Year’s Day! Thank you, Exiguus!