A Radical Entry—Saturday
Let’s do our own brief Advent, as we approach the last four days leading up to celebrating the birth of Jesus. Each day, a brief new post will be added to the list for you to meditate and ponder on. We’ll use a favored carol, “What Child is This?” to examine the radical entry of God into the human experience: who is he, and what does that mean for us?
Jesus—A Real Person
The song says of Jesus, “on Mary’s lap is sleeping.” Did he really? Jesus: a myth, a legend, a human creation, or a real person? Our answer to that will drive our response to him, so let’s explore that. Two gospels intentionally listed Jesus’ human genealogy—Matthew tracing his mother’s ancestors, Luke showing those of Joseph, his stepfather, and both trace back to King David. The four gospels serve as biographies by his contemporaries, with the earliest fragment of Mark dating to about 90 AD, in the time frame of those present. Why all of this? The wanted to affirm his existence. These early followers believed in the reality of Jesus so much that they gave their lives to taking his message to the entire world.
Josephus, a Jewish general from the first century who went over to the conquering Roman side, twice mentioned Jesus as a real person in his writings, writings accepted as accurate by historians. In one he commented on Jesus’ role as a teacher and worker of miracles, in the other he mentioned James as the brother of Jesus.
Why is this important? Abundant evidence exists for the entry of the man Jesus into our history. The evidence makes thinking of him as merely a myth or legend pretty implausible. As Eric Meyers, an archaeologist and emeritus professor in Judaic studies at Duke University says, “I don’t know any mainstream scholar who doubts the historicity of Jesus,” said. “The details have been debated for centuries, but no one who is serious doubts that he’s a historical figure.”
Kick Starting Our Comprehension
Granted, a lot of our Christmas celebrations fit into legend and myth, but the bulk of evidence for Jesus makes it easy to see him as historical. How does that change us? First, we gain confidence in comprehending the historical evidence for Jesus. Our faith transcends opinions and hopes. But that also provides confidence in telling others about him. For the next day or so, meditate on Jesus as a real person in history.
PS you can read more about this reality, not necessarily his identity, in a Nat Geo article at https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/12/jesus-tomb-archaeology/