Wel­com­ing the his­tor­i­cal Je­sus

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The gospel on the Se­cond Sun­day of Ad­vent (Luke 3:1-6) opens with the his­tor­i­cal set­ting on the ap­pear­ance of John the Bap­tist pre­par­ing the way for the min­istry of our Lord Je­sus Christ. It was on the fif­teenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cae­sar, and the time when Pon­tius Pi­late was gov­er­nor of Judea, Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, Philip was tetrarch of Itu­raea and Tra­choni­tis, Lysa­nias was tetrarch of Abi­lene, and An­nas and Ca­iaphas were high priests.

Why did Luke cap­ture this time frame and men­tioned these his­tor­i­cal fig­ures? Per­haps to point out to the his­toric­ity of Je­sus. That the birth, min­istry, life and death of Je­sus are not a fic­tion, but a re­al­ity. In­deed, Je­sus the Son of God was ac­tu­ally born in this world. He took the hu­man flesh and shared the hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence. He was not a myth as oth­ers think of him, not an in­ven­tion of the hu­man mind. He was, is, and will for­ever be, the Savior fore­told by the prophets of the Old Tes­ta­ment, the Se­cond Per­son of the Trin­ity who ex­isted from the be­gin­ning, and the com­ing Judge whose king­dom will have no end.

On this sea­son of Ad­vent, we pre­pare our­selves to wel­come this Je­sus of his­tory. We wel­come him with the cel­e­bra­tion of Christ­mas – the com­mem­o­ra­tion of his long-awaited birth in Beth­le­hem more than two thou­sand years ago. At the same time we pre­pare to wel­come him on his proph­e­sied se­cond com­ing – the end of times when all of us, whether liv­ing or dead, will be judged by him and re­warded with the un­speak­able joys of heaven, or con­demned to the tor­ments of hell.

While our hol­i­day prepa­ra­tions of­ten lead us to ex­treme busy­ness, may we then not lose sight of the rea­son for the sea­son – Je­sus him­self. Christ­mas shop­ping, Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions, Christ­mas gift-giv­ing, Christ­mas par­ties, Christ­mas fam­ily re­unions – all of these hap­pen be­cause of the first word in them, “Christ­mas.”

Let us there­fore strive not to make our ex­ter­nal prepa­ra­tions cloud the in­ter­nal. May what we do ex­ter­nally be over­flow­ing ex­pres­sions of what we pre­pare for in­ter­nally–— of hearts re­pent­ing for our sins, and of our whole be­ing ac­cept­ing and pro­fess­ing Je­sus as the source of our faith, hope and love.

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