Since many have attempted to set down an orderly account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were passed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after researching everything carefully from the very first, to write an accurate and orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught (Luke 1:1-4).
Ready or not, 2018 is in full swing. The warm and fuzzy afterglow of Christmas has faded away. The ball in Times Square has dropped. The daily grind to fulfill obligations, meet deadlines, and check off responsibilities has resumed at full tilt. As a result, we might legitimately question the validity of all those glorious promises we celebrated at Christmas—“Where is this Savior who has been born to us? Where is this peace on earth? ‘Good will’ you say? Bah humbug!” Christmas was wonderful, but the world seems to have transitioned into 2018 with just as many difficulties as we saw in 2017. So what difference did Christmas make?
Enter the Gospel according to Luke. The Apostle Paul’s beloved physician seeks to assure Theophilus (an otherwise unknown Christian reader) that he hasn’t been handed a bill of goods. On the contrary, Theophilus can have certainty regarding what he had been taught about Jesus. Even though human history and its manifold problems continued beyond Jesus’ time on earth, what Jesus accomplished in his death and resurrection remains available throughout all generations. The key for Theophilus, and for us today, is to follow the unbreakable chain—link by link—all the way back to the Savior. Or, to use a more contemporary image, we can visualize clicking on one hyperlink after another until we arrive back at the original source—Christ Jesus himself!
Certainty comes from recognizing that the same Jesus who, according to the Apostles’ Creed, was “born of the Virgin Mary” and who “suffered under Pontus Pilate” also calls us to follow him in 2018. Like Luke and like Theophilus, we weren’t there to hear Jesus preach. We weren’t there to see him calm the storm. We never had an opportunity to follow him as he walked upon the water… But we do have the chain that links us to those who saw it all firsthand. We weren’t there to recline with him in the upper room. We weren’t there to witness his crucifixion for the sins of the world. We never had an opportunity to check out the empty tomb for ourselves… But we do have the chain that links us to those who first saw and believed.
May the same Spirit who inspired Luke to write, and who preserved the Scriptures for us to read today, link together “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” and our lives in 2018. And may we, like Theophilus, have certainty about what we’ve been taught.