December 26, 2016

John 1:4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

The traditional reading for Christmas day is the beginning of John’s gospel of which the above is part. We don’t know exactly when this was written but the Wikipedia article says “John is usually dated to AD 90–110” (You don’t get more authoritative than that!). The point is that by the beginning of the second century there was no reason to believe that this religion based on Jesus was going to affect the world. Churches were spread out around the Mediterranean basin. They were small for the most part, poor, ignored by the majority of the population or even on occasion persecuted by authorities. By today’s standards it would be called a sect or a cult, a religious curiosity in a world of religious curiosities. It wouldn’t be for a couple of hundred years when Constantine came to be Emperor around 325 that Christianity would have a major impact on the politics and social structures of the culture. And yet John asserts right at the beginning of his gospel that, I would have added despite all appearances, the life of this one human being had relevance for “all mankind,” all people everywhere. We tend to view religion as part of the cultural expression of various segments of population. We value being broadminded and tolerant. Those are good traits and part of the teaching of the Bible. But Christians asserted from the very beginning it seems that what happened with the birth of the baby we celebrate at Christmas was God shaking the world, the whole world. Time has borne this out against all odds. Who is the Jesus you note, ponder or worship this Christmas; an interesting part of the scope of historical events or “the light of all mankind?”

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