LUKE’S CHRISTMAS GOSPEL OF JESUS: A 30-Day Christmas-Time Devotional.
Luke 1: 57-80 (MsgB) In order to fit Luke’s Christmas texts properly into the traditional 4-week Advent season, we will take a quick skip over John’s story (Luke 1: 57-80). Might I suggest that you add these important verses to your devotional study beyond your daily Advent readings we’ve supplied you here. Thanks for your kind acceptance…and MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Luke 2: 1-2 (MsgB)
[2:1] About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire.  This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
As the good doctor Luke continues his writings on the life and ministry of Jesus, he places the Advent of our Lord squarely within a historical context of some very troubled times.
To 21st century readers, Luke’s context of “about that time” (i.e. when Caesar orders a massive census of everyone living across the wide expanse of the Roman Empire) doesn’t mean much to us.
But to Luke’s 1st century readers, the response would be totally different.
To make my point here, Luke’s verses of context (v 1-2) would be like me telling you that something very important happened around the time of 9-11, or more recently, the 2020 pandemic. To 21st century folks like us, we all know what we were doing on that fateful day in September 2001. Every generation has red-letter days like 9-11. Days or specific periods of time which evoke a great public and personal response. Certainly, 2020, has become just that for so many of us, right?
Historians tell us that to 1st century readers of Luke’s gospel, all would have easily remembered this tumultuous period of time surrounding the ‘first census.’ That’s because everyone living within the expansive rule of Rome during this time would have experienced a great amount of personal inconvenience, at best. And to those who were not Roman citizens, like most of the Hebrews of Israel, this census was just another sign of how oppressive their government was becoming. Taxes were already high and life conditions were deteriorating badly.
Another 1st century writer, a Jewish historian named Josephus, points to this same time frame (between 4 BC and 6 AD) as being the beginnings of a very tumultuous time in Israel. Not a pleasant time to be alive. Not an easy time for an easy life.
Tumultuous times. Troubled times.
So, when Luke gives us his historical context for Jesus’ birth, he’s pointing not just to a date, but more importantly, he’s reminding us that Jesus of Nazareth was born into a time and place where social unrest and political uprising were of growing concern.
God’s Prince of Peace came into this world at a time when there was little peace.
Paul, interestingly enough, when writing his letter to the Galatian church, defines this time frame from God’s perspective. He calls it “the fullness of time” (see Gal 4: 4).
Aren’t you glad that despite the outer appearances of our everyday world (sometimes looking pretty dark and hopeless); God can see it as a unique time of great opportunity to perform His very best works?
My prayer: Thank You, God, for the reminder that Your timing is always perfect. When times are tumultuous and troubled, help me remember, God, that this is the time You send Your very best work. During my seasons of trouble, help me, Holy Spirit, to believe that Jesus comes in during times such as this. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So, how have I allowed the tumultuous and troubled times around me to steal away my faith and hope? How can I open myself up in increased ways to the pro-active truth that God always sends His very best work when times are the most troubled?
So what is God speaking to you today? Are you practicing the Kingdom presence of God?
We hope you’ll enjoy these 30 blogs that walk you through 30 days of Advent (Nov 26 – Dec 25). Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
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