In the story of the birth of Jesus, the Gospel of Luke references a historical time period, “In the days of Herod the King…” he writes. He then follows it up with the names of two other ruling leaders, Caesar and Quirinius. We know a little about each of them.
Herod was a despot, puppet king of Rome. He had a huge ego and a short temper. Most of what he accomplished he did with bribery. He murdered anyone who stood in his way, he even killed one of his wives and 2 of his sons.
Caesar Augustus ruled like a god. He actually thought he was one. When citizens treated him like a god it went to his head so he ruled with careless arrogance. Quirinius was governor appointed by Rome and he represented all that was hated by the Jews - oppression through taxation and policies which were backed up by military might.
Luke wants you to know that in those days, at that particular time and location, Jesus was born. If you were to pause and think for a moment, you can fill in other names for the times that we live in today. You can struggle with the chaos and disorientation all around you, but Luke wants you to know that in the midst of the worst possible atmosphere; in the midst of one of the most depressing, despairing and defeatist times; in the face of a ruthless tyrant like Herod; a would-be god like Caesar and a symbol of oppression like Quirinius, God did something amazing - he gave us Jesus.
Christmas is not about a feel-good movie plot. It is no happy fantasy or jingle bell moment. It is about real life and a world that needs a baby named Jesus who will rise up and change the world forever. Even with the chaos still around us, we have a vision for what might be. It is captured in a little child in Bethlehem and you cannot escape its hopefulness.
That spirit of hope was beautifully captured in Laila Biali’s performance at this year’s Christmas in the Chapel. She’s recently recorded and released a Christmas song called “A Child is Born,” originally by Thad Jones, with lyrics by Alec Wilder and filmed in the Tyndale Chapel. We hope you enjoy this inspirational rendition.
Have a blessed Christmas and may you know the hope of the birth of Jesus in a fresh way this season!
Dr. Gary V. Nelson
President & Vice Chancellor
Tyndale University College