It's About Time
“5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.” Luke 1:5 NIV
“1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.” Luke 2:1-3 NIV
“4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4 ESV
Dear Church Family,
The first candle of Advent, which we lit last Sunday morning, is called the Prophet’s Candle or Candle of Hope. Christmas is supposed to be a time of hope, of expectation. Zechariah was in the temple to burn incense that represented the prayers of Israel going up to God. Prayer is, among other things, a sign that we have not lost our hope in God.
Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus also includes a couple of references to the world in which the Jews lived. Herod was the king in Judea, and Caesar Augustus was the emperor of Rome. Caesar had the authority to disrupt the lives of everyone in the empire—such as if he wanted to take a census to aid in the collection of taxes.
You might say that the very reason the Jews needed to have hope for the future is because their present left much to be desired. The political situation in Judea was tense. Herod had Idumean blood, and the Jewish elders in Jerusalem had objected strongly to his enthronement. The Caesar of Luke 2:1 is said in antiquity to be “the divine savior who has brought peace to the world.”
Luke wants his readers to know that there is a power struggle going on. It was the mission of Jesus, not Caesar, to be the savior of the world. Jesus, not Herod, is the true king of the Jews (see Luke 23:3). This is why Jesus would say later in the gospel of Luke that he did not come to bring peace, but division (Luke 12:51). The time of the unchallenged reign of worldly leaders is at an end. “It’s about time,” Luke is saying, for God’s people, and the people of the world, to be faced with a choice.
In Galatians 1:4, Paul refers to “this present evil age.” This is the world that Jesus entered into. It’s a world of allegiances to evil powers. Jesus entered that world as a helpless infant. How he overcame that world even though it crucified him is a subject for a future pastor’s letter. For this letter, however, I’m saying along with Luke that “it’s about time” for the leadership and the values of the world to be challenged. Christmas is a time of hope, but it’s also a time of choosing sides. The world may demand our allegiance, but Jesus deserves it.