TEXT: In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. (Luke 2:1-3)
Notice how carefully Luke pins down the time of the birth of Jesus. It happened during the days of the census-the first census (Luke clarifies), the one when Quirinius was governor. Luke wants us to know for certain that Jesus' birth is an actual historical event, something that really happened, in a place where you can go and visit if you choose.
Why is Luke so detailed about all this? Who really cares which census it was, or who was governor or even emperor at the time? Can't we just get right to the story?
Luke says no. He says that " it seemed good to me, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught" (Luke 1:3-4).
Certainty is hard to come by today. We have "fake news" and "alternative facts" on TV and on the internet. People twist one another's words and even alter photographs to show things that didn't really happen. Or, if they did happen, they lie outright, changing the details to suit themselves.
But Luke won't play that game. Jesus' birth really happened, at this time, in this place. Our Christian faith is built on historical events, not on airy philosophies and the ideas of human thinkers, however wise they may be. God has come into the real world, the world of dates and times and facts.
God has come into our world, a world desperately in need of truth. We need a real God, one who speaks and commands and judges and saves. We need a real Savior, one who lays down His own human life to rescue the real, broken people who trust in Him, and then rises to real, everlasting life again forever. We need a real Holy Spirit, one who finds us even in the darkness and brings us into the true, glorious light of Jesus Christ.
Thanks be to God, that's exactly what we have-a real hope, a real joy, a real baby lying in a manger, the Savior of our world. Amen.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank You for seeking us out in our darkness and confusion. Strengthen us in Your truth. Amen.
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