History and Jesus – Part 1

Who Cares about History?

“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John” (Luke 3)

These words preclude Luke’s description of John the Baptist mission as the preparer of the way for Jesus. But of similar importance is Luke’s historical context for John. John comes to Judah at a very specific time and place- times and places of history. Real times; real places.

Generally, history is studied because it teaches us what we have inherited from generations of men and women before us. However, if we take time to look at the curriculum of schools today, one will see a dramatic change from studying history to studying social studies. Rather than learning about our past, we spend more time with anthropology (specifically present cultural anthropology), economics, geography, political science/government, sociology and psychology. While history is about the past, social studies is mostly about “now.” Social studies often is impacted by relativism; history however has history to interpret itself.

This shift should have all Christians extremely concerned. “Who really cares about something that happened 2000 years ago” is the focus, the core for each of our lives, our schools and our future. The historical Jesus of Nazareth of 2000 years ago is the Jesus of Creation and the Jesus who Redeemed us; his earthly history is essential for us.

The writer of Psalm 44 knew history, its importance and its need to be shared.

O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old:
you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free;
for not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face,
for you delighted in them.

(Psalm 44:1-3)

We should be careful to have a strong history curriculum in our schools, to share family history in our homes, and to be ready to add to history as we are mindful of the future. How do you share your history? How do you share the history described in the Bible? How has Bible history been made part of YOUR history?