Context is important. Even more importantly, understanding context correctly is most important particularly regarding life or death issues.
What is the context of life? Looking at tombstones we see birthdates and death dates usually with a dash between the two dates. Life is a dash! Is that all that life is? It depends on the context! Didn’t see that coming, did you?
Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on Easter or Resurrection Sunday. The Christian church in Rome settled on December 25 as the Feast of the nativity as early as the year 336. Easter is celebrated according to Jewish feasts of Passover and First Fruits on the Hebrew calendar.
The Gregorian calendar went into effect in October 1582 and is named after Pope Gregory XIII. The Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar whereas the Gregorian calendar is based on the earth’s trip around the sun. Needless to say, context is critical for understanding all of the calendars used around the earth.
The biblical book of Daniel contains many prophecies about Messiah coming to earth. Jesus fulfilled many of those prophecies during His first advent. Daniel also prophesied about the anti-Christ and the end times when Jesus will return to earth. Jesus described the end times to His disciples in Matthew chapter 24 with phrases like “When you see….” There will be signs. How do we recognize these signs? Context.
Since Jesus’ ascension into Heaven nearly 2,000 years ago Christians have speculated about His return. The New Testament is filled with signs of His return along with warnings not to be deceived by false signs and false prophets. Context, right?
What is the context of the world in the waning days of 2023? How does the world match up with the previous 6,000 years or so of recorded history? We’re still here after millennia of warnings about Doom’s Day. In the last 50 years we’ve been deluged with apocryphal warnings that climate change will destroy the earth in so many days IF we don’t do something. So far the science of climate change is about as accurate as the science of … well, let’s not go there.
While Christmas and other festive holidays are generally welcoming and happy times, they’re also likely to be the loneliest days of the year for many people. Why? Context.
Christians celebrate Christmas as the time when the Christ would deliver us all out of our burdens. Isaiah 9:6 says it like this: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forever more. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.”
In light of this context Christians should rejoice in Jesus’ return to set up His kingdom. Our worldly contexts of pain, suffering, and unrighteousness are not comparable with what God has promised. Let’s look forward to God’s context through trusting Jesus for eternal life.
Daniel L. Gardner is a columnist who lives in Starkville, MS. You may contact him at PJandMe2@ gmail.com.