“. . . a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us . . . just as the original eyewitnesses handed them down to us . . . carefully investigated . . . in an orderly sequence . . . the certainty of the things” (Luke 1:1-4). The story of Jesus and the gospel are not made up. They are not mythological stories. We have a sure word. A certain narrative. “In the days of King Herod of Judea . . .” (1:5).
So many thoughts come to mind, in no particular order. Ours is an historical faith. God has overseen the fulfillment and advancement of the faith so that Jesus came at just the right time in history. The people of the story are real people, with real problems and real hopes. They are like us. The good news that is announced is announced for those who lived in the past, for those who lived in the days of the Messiah, and for those of us who have come after. Present are Zechariah and Elizabeth, the angel Gabriel, Mary and Joseph, John, Caesar Augustus, the shepherds and angels, the heavenly host, and all the others. Some were wicked, some seemingly just disinterested, and others played blessed roles in the story. But the story, with all its persons and parts, was really about one person, Jesus Christ.
Jesus, the baby born of a virgin and laid in a manger, circumcised according to the law, growing up in Nazareth, increasing in wisdom and stature until he completes the work of the Messiah. What a story!
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart. --Charles Wesley (18th century)