A Matter of Facts
At that time the Emperor Augustus ordered a census of the Roman Empire. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All the people went to register in the cities where their ancestors had lived.
4 So Joseph went from Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a Judean city called Bethlehem. Joseph, a descendant of King David, went to Bethlehem because David had been born there. 5 Joseph went there to register with Mary. She had been promised to him in marriage and was pregnant.
6 While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have her child. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there wasn’t any room for them in the inn.
8 Shepherds were in the fields near Bethlehem. They were taking turns watching their flock during the night. 9 An angel from the Lord suddenly appeared to them. The glory of the Lord filled the area with light, and they were terrified. 10 The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid! I have good news for you, a message that will fill everyone with joy. 11 Today your Savior, Christ the Lord, was born in David’s city. 12 This is how you will recognize him: You will find an infant wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, a large army of angels appeared with the angel. They were praising God by saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those who have his good will!”
15 The angels left them and went back to heaven. The shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about.”
16 They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph with the baby, who was lying in a manger. 17 When they saw the child, they repeated what they had been told about him. 18 Everyone who heard the shepherds’ story was amazed.
19 Mary treasured all these things in her heart and always thought about them.
20 As the shepherds returned to their flock, they glorified and praised God for everything they had seen and heard. Everything happened the way the angel had told them. – Luke 2:1-20 [God’s Word Translation]
Sergeant Friday is famous for saying, “Just the facts, Ma’am.” He didn’t want any embellishments, opinions, or conjectures on the part of the witnesses. He would figure out what to do with the facts. He wanted to make his on conclusions. He didn’t want the facts to get clouded amidst the ideas or potential motives of those he was interviewing.
Friday would have loved Luke. That’s especially true in the account of Jesus’ birth. I see it especially in Luke’s matter-of-fact report, “Joseph went there [Bethlehem] to register with Mary. She had been promised to him in marriage and was pregnant.” No mention of the miracle of the virgin conception. Nothing about Joseph’s righteous behavior toward Mary (cf. Matthew 1). Just the facts.
Luke is both a historian, and a physician, but he makes little over the birth details. At this point he is conveying the facts of Jesus’ birth just as he said he would in the prologue of this account of Jesus’ life.
Many have attempted to write about what had taken place among us. 2 They received their information from those who had been eyewitnesses and servants of God’s word from the beginning, and they passed it on to us. 3 I, too, have followed everything closely from the beginning. So I thought it would be a good idea to write an orderly account for Your Excellency, Theophilus. 4 In this way you will know that what you’ve been told is true. – Luke 1:1-4
John will provide deep theological truths and profound insights into the person of Jesus and the implications of his being, life, and ministry. Mark will take us on a rapid fire highlight reel of Jesus’ actions. Matthew will connect Jesus’ ministry to the Old Testament. Luke gives us the facts.
But these are not just cold historical factoids. These facts spring from profound theological truths. There is nothing lightweight about Luke’s gospel. The factual manner in which he conveys the history of Jesus invites us to do as Mary did at Jesus’ birth. We do well to, “treasure all these things in our hearts and think about them always.”
I wonder if we take the facts about Jesus’ life seriously enough, or too quickly shelve them for mere warm sentimentality of the season. A virgin gave birth to the Savior of the world! That’s a fact we ought to consider deeply, daily, and joyfully.