Monday, February 1, 2016

Fairy Tales

In the post-Christmas season, we tend to contemplate the earthly ministry of Christ. Let's start with how Luke begins the tale:
"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar — when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene — during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness" (Luke 3:1-2).
This story occurred during the period of time when the lives of seven different historical figures overlap. Why would someone waste ink and parchment on a detail like that?

Luke wanted to make sure we knew that the story he was about the tell is grounded in history. The story of Jesus didn't happen "once upon a time." It didn't happen "a long time ago, in a [place] far, far away." It happened "in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar ...."

Why is that important? So that you and I can know the apostles "did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power" (2Pet 1:16).

The Gospel is not just a nice story to tell sitting around the campfire; it is supposed to turn your life upside down. So it's important to know that this really happened.

1 comment:

dobson said...

Authors of fiction often place their characters into acutual locations and historical timelines to create a sense of realism.

If the events described in Luke had been set in Mordor, we'd know for sure that they were fiction - but is the reverse true? Does setting a narrative in an actual location, and a specific time make it more credible?

Events in the Harry Potter books clearly take place in a contemporary London, for example King's Cross Station is a real place, in London - an actual city that you can fly to in under 8 hours. Does this make us any less certain that the story is pure fiction?

Perhaps we might look for more objective criteria that an event is history: The best would be contemporary accounts that confirm the events described in the book. Say, perhaps we found Harry Potter's school-records or a Judean police-report concerning that rabble-rouser Jesus.