Day 21 – Census
On: November 21, 2014   |   By: admin   |   Under: Blog   |   Comments: Comments are off

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.” [Luke 2:1-3]

The scene is set for the greatest birth in history.

So this is a bit of an anticlimax, surely. Do we really want a history lesson when we’re eagerly waiting for the arrival of Jesus. But be patient, please, for these verses are a firm anchor in secular history that would challenge anyone  (no names, of course!) who would seek to dismiss the greatest tale ever told as nothing more than just that – a fable.

Remember, Luke was writing “so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (1:4) Of course, looking at it the other way round, it is just as easy to get carried away with the marvellous story before us, as it is to poo-poo it. If faith in Jesus is to stand the test of time, it must be based on hard fact or it will wither and die when the going gets tough. Matthew starts his gospel in a similar vein, setting out a complete genealogy of Jesus before getting onto the story itself. For its historicity is a key part of the story and, as John drew attention to in the introduction to his gospel, Jesus was around from before the beginning of time; He was no newcomer to the race … human race! 🙂 … rather, the fulfilment of all that had gone before.

This makes the birth we will shortly read about, all the more astounding. No cute little baby, even if miraculously conceived, but the Lord of History come to join us on Earth. The mischievous side of me could almost imagine Him winking at us from the manger, “Hi there, it’s me!”

Interesting that the census was of the entire Roman world, the very entity which would enable such a rapid spread of the Gospel through the apostle Paul and his friends. God knows all about timing.


Father God, thank you that the gospel writers took such trouble to show that the arrival of Jesus, born to Mary, was an indisputable fact  of history. One who I can rely on as the basis of my own life.

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