Luke 2:1-7 – In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (NIV)
Luke is careful throughout his gospel to place Jesus in history. That was important back then because there were so many "mystery" and "fertility" religions which claimed to have miraculous births and gods who died and rose again. So Luke anchors the account of Jesus' birth, life, death and resurrection in history. It is as if Luke wishes to say, "Make no mistake. This is no cult fantasy, but reality. Epiphany. Emmanuel. God with us."
Today it is just as important to place Jesus in history. With so many super-hero stories on TV and in the movies, and so many "scholars" who place more faith in doubting and questioning than they do in Christ, it is important to remind the world that Jesus is a historical figure. Jesus is who He claimed to be. He was, and is, and will come again. This is no myth. It is reality. Either you believe the evidence or you don't. As for me, I find joy in believing.
Prayer: Great God of history, I come to you in Jesus' name asking you to give to me the greatest gift of all this Christmas season, the gift of faith in Jesus. I regret my wrong and my stubborn refusal to believe. Lord God I would believe. Help my inclination to unbelief. For I pray this in the name of the One who is pure grace. Amen.