Imagine living in Judea or Galilee around about 4BC. The gossip trail will have been working overtime, rumours of angels showing up and appearing with words from God after 400 years, reports of an elderly priest struck dumb in the temple, claims about an elderly woman giving birth having been infertile all her life and alongside that, another rumour that a young unmarried girl, allegedly a virgin had got pregnant … and her husband to be was sticking with her.
Those rumours may have piqued your interest, people would have been talking about them down at the market place and maybe after Synagogue on Saturday. Perhaps some people were wondering if these reports were connected. Those close enough to see first hand were amazed and fearful (Luke 1:65-66).
And yet, for all this commotion at one level, on another, it seems that life got on as normal. The country went about its business, rulers sent off to Rome for the right to be kings, the governor called a census and required people to return to the place of their birth and the religious leaders got on with preaching their sermons and arranging their festivals. I wonder how they would have answered their congregants if these rumours came up.
Now, I’m speculating a little here but my point is this, we know how at the same time there can be rumours and stories of incredible things on one hand and extreme scepticism on the other. Even today with all the medical data available and the instant access we have to it through the internet, I can meet three different people with wildly different views about coronavirus in the same day. One believes we are seeing a serious pandemic but with signs of hope, another thinks that things are worse than is being reported whilst another insists that there is no pandemic at all, we are all being hoodwinked by an authoritarian state. As today, so then.
However in among the sceptics who did not want to believe and the awestruck frightened people sharing stories were men and women like Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah who saw what God was doing, treasured it in their hearts learnt to believe and responded by pouring out their hearts in praise.
What is your response to the story about Jesus? Are you sceptical, suspecting it’s all just a myth? Are you awestruck by the stories, amazed, a little fearful? Or is your response to believe?