Dec 30, 2008
By Michael Bell
Here are three quick thoughts about Christmas sermon dos and don’ts.
1. Internet Monk advises us against the use of allegory when preaching a Christmas sermon.
2. Pastor Dieter Reida has an excellent list of “Thou Shalts” for Pastors to consider when preparing a Christmas service. Take note of it, and refer to it again next year.
3. Even Pastor’s deserve a break! Don’t make your pastor preach four sermons in 8 days. If you must have a Christmas Eve and Christmas Day service, find a substitute preacher for Sunday preceding or following.
Christmas is one of the most wonderful times of the year for Christians. With a little foresight, we can make sure that it is a meaningful time as well.
Dec 28, 2008
By Michael Bell
Traditionally, Jesus is said to be about 33 years old when he died. This date is calculated by beginning with Luke 3:23 which states that Jesus was about 30 years old when he started his ministry. John’s gospel mentions three passovers, so the assumption is that he was about 33 when he died. This is the most direct evidence that we have, so it is the dating that is most commonly accepted.
There are some questions about this dating. For example, Luke uses the word “about”, showing that he is not certain of the age of Jesus. And while the gospels seem to cover three years of ministry, no where does it say that his ministry was restricted to three years. So the question can be asked: Is there other information out there that would make us think differently?
Lets start back at with Jesus’ birth and see how everything fits.
Right away we are faced with a dating problem. Matthew has Jesus being born during the reign of Herod the Great, who we know died in 4 B.C. Luke on the other hand has Jesus being born during the “first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.” The problem is that Quirinius was governor of Syria from A.D. 6 – 12. Either Luke is mistaken, or as some scholars such as F.F. Bruce believe, there was a mistranslation somewhere along the way, and “while Quirinius” was originally written as “before Quirinius”. We do know from Tertullian (Against Marcion 4.19:10) that there was a census that had been taken in Judaea by Sentius Saturninus the Governor of Syria, somewhere between 10-6 B.C. Either way, the earlier census, becomes the more likely census.
If Luke had the wrong census, then he would also have a tendency to underestimate Jesus’ age, by the differential between the two censuses. Jesus then would have begun his ministry somewhere between the ages of 42 and 46. Let us see if this fits with other historical dates.
Jesus’ closest contemporary was John the Baptist. We do have very exact dates for both the start of John’s ministry as well as his death.
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