Anno Domini 2016
By Matthew Roberts, 01 Jan 2016
Today marks the beginning of a new year; AD2016. It won’t occur to most people to ask, 2,016 years since what? Many will know it’s 2,016 years since Jesus, but that doesn’t actually take account of what the date means. AD means something much better than that.
Our way of counting years is owed mainly to the Venerable Bede, a Christian monk and historian who was based in the eighth century at the monastery of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow, what we would now call South Shields on the Tyne. Instead of counting years since the Roman Emperors, he popularised counting years ‘AD’. Since years before Jesus are counted ‘Before Christ’, BC, why do we not count years ‘AC’, ‘After Christ’? Why AD?
AD stands for Anno Domini, latin for ‘in the year of our Lord’ (anno = ‘in the year’, domini = ‘of the Lord’ – ‘our’ is assumed). Note the 'in'. Not 'since' the year of our Lord, but 'in' it. This means something really important. We are not counting years since Jesus was our Lord, for the simple reason that he is still our Lord. We are not counting years since anything, but the number of years in which he has been our Lord.
Our sermon last Sunday was on Psalm 110. Here’s the first verse:
The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” (ESV)
So what has Jesus been doing for 2016 years? He has been:
Reigning: Jesus ascended into heaven where, as man and God in one person forever, God has appointed him King of the world. Jesus has been the man in charge of the world ever since, ruling over every man, woman and child on the planet;
Sitting: Jesus, at the cross, did and finished everything necessary to deal with the guilt, the power and the consequences of our sins; from God’s right hand he pours out, by the Holy Spirit, the incredible effect of his sacrifice for all those who trust him. He has been a perfect priest, ever since (v4);
Waiting: Jesus will one day judge and destroy all the evil of the world (v5-7). But he has not yet, because he is waiting for people all over the world to rally to his side (v3). God has appointed him a prophet for ever, calling people to join his side. That is what the gospel is, Jesus’ summons to people to offer themselves freely to him in this, the day of his power.
This is what it means for Christians to call Jesus Lord. And he has been Lord, reigning, sitting and waiting for 2016 years (well, nearly – Jesus died, was raised, and ascended into heaven about AD30). We are in the years that these things are true. That is why we don’t count the years ‘After Christ’ or 'Since Christ', but count ourselves as being in ‘the year of our Lord’. Anno Domini. AD.
Happy new year – in the Year of our Lord 2016.