And she gave birth to her firstborn son…
Luke gives significant attention to the birth narrative of Jesus. Interestingly, however, the birth itself is described with a great sparsity of details. In just a few verses Luke tells of the entry of God into the world. But the great significance of this event is not lost. Through the angelic announcements to Mary and then Joseph we have learned that the Messiah would be Immanuel, God with us come to save His people from their sins. We learn that His conception would be miraculous, transcending the natural laws of human procreation. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and would thus possess both a human and divine nature. This is the incarnation; the chief miracle and deepest mystery God ever communicated to the mind of man.
Luke locates these events for us by two historical markers. This happened during the reign of Augustus Caesar which lasted from 31 BC to AD 14. More specifically, we are told that it occurred during that period of Augustus’ reign when he commanded the census which occurred during Quirinius’ governorship of Syria. These details serve as an important reminder to us that Christianity lives or dies on historical events. Christianity is not a religion of spiritual techniques. It is not even chiefly about ethics, though obedience to God’s law is vital. Christianity is chiefly about the promises of God being fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He was born as God incarnate in human flesh. He lived and carried out His earthly ministry with perfection. He died for sinners, bearing upon himself the wrath of God. He rose again on the third day and lives to make intercession for God’s people until the day He returns to judge the living and the dead. These events are (or will be) historically verifiable realities.
The birth of Jesus was filled with sacred ironies. Augustus was declared the savior of the world and lived in all the splendor Rome could afford. Meanwhile the true Savior was born in humble circumstances and raised as the son of a carpenter. Through military might and the forceful suppression of enemies, Augustus accomplished the Pax Romana or “the Peace of Rome.” That peace was fleeting. But the baby born in the city of David would make peace between God and sinners. Augustus sat upon a throne which would be lost to barbarians in just a few hundred years. But the child in the manger was given an everlasting throne. He is Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
The Light has Come