This morning in my fellowship with God I read Luke 3. Immediately, I was struck with all of the marks of historicity in this chapter. In the first few verses we’re told that John the Baptist is doing ministry during the time when Tiberius Caesar is emperor of Rome, Pontius Pilate is governor of Judea, Herod is tetrarch of Galilee, and Annas and Caiaphas are high priests to the Jews in that region. Then, the last section of the chapter is the genealogy of Jesus all the way back to Adam. The reason why these marks are so striking is because they show the gospel story to be a real story. This is no fairy tale, myth, or legend… it’s a story that took place at an actual time in history, at an actual place on this earth, and involving actual people who lived. But there’s more.
There are loads of amazing stories that actually happened, what makes this true story so special? Many things, but let me just concentrate on two: 1) This story is about God coming down to earth as a man, living a perfect life, dying as a sacrifice for the sins of his people, and rising from death never to die again. There is no other true story like it. There is one Jesus who died one death to provide one salvation for those who believe. But there’s more. 2) I am included in this story! I’ve read tons of amazing true stories, but I’ve not been a part of any of them. Then I open up the Bible to find that I am written into the true story that stands above all other true stories. Now, to be clear, I am in no way the hero of this story and I didn’t earn my place in this story. Actually, I play a very minor role as an enemy of the hero who he saves from destruction, and because of what the hero did for me I get all the benefits as if I played his role.
This morning as I read Luke 3 I came across verse 17 , spoken by John the Baptist: “[Jesus’] winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” This verse came alive to me like never before because I realized that I was in it. By God’s grace, I am part of that wheat that John says Jesus will gather together. Praise the Lord! I am of the saved, not the chaff!
For all of you who have trusted in Christ for salvation, you are included in this story too. You, like me, are not the hero, but through the hero’s sacrifice you get all his blessing. The sobering reality of all of this is that everyone else in this world is also written into the story: they are either the wheat or the chaff. The wheat if they believe and the chaff if they do not. Let us take the message of this true story to the ears of more people with the prayer that they too will see themselves written in this story as enemies of the hero who have been saved by his sacrifice.