Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christ vs. Caesar

We are a generation that is fixated on instant news. Our proclivity to assess our world based on current events is not new. In the first century people found hope or despair based on current news. The Roman Empire was the great western nation. It was ruled by Octavian, the great nephew of Julius Caesar. Octavian was eventually called Caesar Augustus, meaning Revered Emperor. He was the Caesar who brought the Pax Romana (the peace of Rome). He was even referred to on one inscription as the savior of the world. It was this news which informed the people of the first century.

This is the background to Luke’s ironic account of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2. Luke provides us with a news account which focuses our attention in an unlikely place. He gives us news about an insignificant teen girl, in an insignificant town, in an insignificant nation, giving birth to a very significant baby. Luke begins this story with Caesar Augustus’ census which forced Joseph and Mary to return to Bethlehem, demonstrating that the world’s greatest leader was simply a pawn in God’s plan for the birth of Jesus. Luke goes on to tell us this baby, not Caesar, is truly the Revered King, the Savior, and the One who brings peace.

Jesus is the Son of God who was born a man to live perfectly in our place, pay the penalty for our sin on the Cross, and raise from the dead, so that all who turn from sin and trust in him alone will be saved. Luke directly challenges our focus on current news and places it squarely on the good news of Jesus. May this Christmas season remind us that all other news events are merely tangential to the greatest news story ever told!