Welcoming the historical Jesus
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.