I’ve been writing a commentary on the Gospel according to Luke recently. As I’m writing, I thought about the Advent season where a preacher is often wrapped up in trying to come up with a fresh series based on very traditional Christmas themes to prepare for Christmas. I think Luke’s Gospel actually has the most complete record of the birth of Jesus among the Gospels. Within Luke 1-2, Luke gave us some important concepts about preparing for the Advent. Instead of trying to retell the story of Jesus’ birth, why not look at Luke’s themes in Luke 1-2 to see how the characters were prepared for Advent? In turn, we can see how Luke prepared Theophilus for appreciating the greater ministry of Jesus. I hope my writing of this series will give fellow preachers ideas on how to prepare for Advent. I honestly do not think we have to stick completely to the Christmas story for four weeks to achieve what Luke had done with these stories.
The very first idea Luke conveyed in preparation for the Advent was the importance of history in the greater plan of God. The very beginning of several of the Advent stories has historical notes. Luke 1.5 talked about Herod being the king. Luke 2.1 talked about Caesar Augustus. Why indeed are these historical notes given?
At the most basic level, these notes set Jesus within Roman and Jewish history. Such notes show how God worked. God worked within history. History was important. These notes showed that these aren’t just myths. They were real historical events.
Second, besides the importance of the historical setting, these notes Jesus did not come in some kind of alien form. He arrived among humans within difficult circumstances. Jesus did not come as a grown man and a king. His arrival contrasted against the powerful and wealthy kings of the earth.
What did all this mean to Theophilus who was a Roman official? The historical notes challenged him to check out history to see what Luke recorded was indeed the truth. It also declared to him who the real boss was.
In preparation for the Advent, we must build our faith foundation on the faithful and sovereign God of history. Thus, if we want to preach series faithful to the spirit of Advent, faithfulness of God may be a good place to start.