Saturday, Dec 07, 2019. The birth of Jesus is described at the beginning of the gospel of Luke. Luke starts with a comment on how he wrote his story. He investigated and collected material and put it together. Usually it is assumed that Luke wrote his two books, the gospel of Luke and the book “Acts” - the story of the early church - between about 55 and 65 AD, since he does not report the death of the apostle Paul 67 AD, even if Acts writes about Paul's missionary journeys until his deportation to Rome. So with the death and resurrection of Jesus about 30 AD, the collection took place about 25 to 35 years after Jesus life on earth.
Thorough Investigation …
Today, let us focus on some important observations. First, we observe the desire of Luke to carry out a sincere investigation. First, he writes:
1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. (Luke 1, 1-4)
Luke stresses the point that he got his content from eyewitnesses. This is not tales. It is not fiction. It is what people experienced, what they say with their eyes and heard with their ears! The bible claims to report facts, not fiction.
And yet, the next thing we hear is a report about an angel talking to Zechariah, a priest of the division of Abijah. My point here is not the story. It is not the complex relationships which are the background of this story. They would be a topic by itself. But my point is that angels and wonders are natural ingredients of the gospels. They are facts to the people here. And they knew that they are not ordinary facts, that something special is taking place here.
We also note that the bible is far away from putting angels into a particular light. They are there, figures which take part in important stories. But the focus of the story is the baby which is born here. It is God himself, who became human.
Angels and the role of Wonder …
A wonder is an event where God is interfering with nature, humans or society. Of course, God is always there. He is there by his mere power. Nothing is hidden to God.
We know that much of this world is following natural laws. Is all of it following laws? We think so, usually. But we also know that there are humans, acting. They have will. They make decisions. They desire. They choose. Their choices will influence what happens. Are these choices just the outcome of natural laws? Is our brain not just a machine? You could come to the conclusion that free will and decisions are just illusions in our mind. But that is not the biblical picture. And it is not any serious scientific theory today either.
God has created the laws of nature. God is using the laws of nature. And he is Lord over all the laws of nature. God can alter and change them as he wants. He keeps the natural laws and our universe as a shelter for humans - they are our cradle and garden, our habitat.
The bible is phrased in a larger framework, where the spiritual world is taken serious. It talks about the spirits and beings in our physical world as well as those in the spiritual world. Most world religions know the spiritual world, and esotericism is working with it. For science, it is a difficult terrain. We will need to look deeper into this question - without having all the answers we would like to have. But let us note that the bible reports interaction between the physical world and the spiritual world on many layers. One layer is the appearance of angels, talking to humans.
The Christmas story is full of angels. They talk to Zechariah. They talk to Mary. They talk to the shepherds. They talk to Josef. Angels play their role in the events, which have so deep meaning for mankind. (Roland Potthast)
This is part of the trilogy project “Faith of a Scientist”.