Last week I wrote a post regarding the most recent “Jesus baby-daddy” scandal to hit cyberspace. In my article I suggested that every now and again, media sensations like this one can be beneficial if they help us re-examine Jesus, take him for who he is according to the sacred writ.
In preparation for Advent, it seems important to discuss the world into which Jesus was born so that we might better understand the expectations that loomed and the liturgy upon which his life was read. Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll feature a series of posts to aid pastors and seekers in their understanding of This Jesus who lived and breathed in human form and walked in the dust of Ancient Palestine.
We believe Jesus was born between 6-4 BCE. BCE, of course, means Before Common Era and bears witness to what we now know, Jesus was not born in 0 such that the definition of “Before Christ” is a historical.
If we take the evangelist Matthew’s account to be credible, then the child Jesus was born within two years of Herod’s death. Since according to Matthew, Jesus is in danger of being one of the Hebrew boys under two who are murdered under Herod’s reign, and since the Roman record confirms the death of Herod in 4 BCE, or according to Josephus 37 years after the beginning of his reign.
At the death of Herod, there is an enormous uproar in Palestine. Octavian and Marc Antony had placed Herod in his position over the Judean kingdom so that he functioned much like a puppet king. Upon Herod’s death, the Jewish people who had never wanted Herod for a king, revolted under the new reign of his son’s. There were uprisings in Judea, Perea and in Galilee where fighting was centered in Sepphoris and the leaders of the revolt were Judas and Zadok, who are the origin of the faction known as the "Zealots."
Since the Roman garrison at Cesarea could not contain the multiple revolts, the Syrian governor then responded with some 18,000 Roman troops and put down the rebellion, crucifying some 2,000 rebels outside the walls of Jerusalem.
It is into this world Jesus is born, where oppression and apocalyptic hopes burn fierce fires in the hearts of the Jewish purists who await a Messianic king who will reign as Simon Maccabeus who liberated the Jews from the tyranny of foreign kings or his brother Judas took back the Temple from the Gentile oppressors. In fact, it is Judas' act that is celebrated at Chanukah, when the Jews rededicated the Temple to God after it had been under the rule of Selucid kings and used as a pagan site of worship.
Jesus’ entry into the world during a volatile political and socio economic climate changes everything about how we read his words and understand his mission. Jesus comes into the world to inaugurate the Kingdom of God which will challenge the rulership of the day and call his followers to live radically counter to culture to embrace a revolution of love and the reign of a spiritual world.
Stay with us here as we prepare for Advent and get to know This Jesus...