“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire world.” (Luke 2:1)
“In those days”, God’s covenant people, the Israelites, were losing heart during the intertestamental years (the 400 years between the end of the OT and the start of the NT). Strong men from foreign powers had invaded and taken captive the best of God’s people leaving Israel a shell of what she used to be.
“In those days” God’s promises seemed to fade away as other nations rose in strength.
“In those days” Caesar Augustus was the ruler of the Roman Empire; his Roman sandal pressed hard on the neck of Israel.
“Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census be taken of the entire world.” The scope of his reign was vast – the “entire world”. Because Caesar thought of himself with a great deal of self-importance, he wanted to count the people under his rule. The vast amount of people under his reign validated his sense of greatness.
But little did he know, God was also going to do something great: the King of kings would become one of those counted in the Roman census.
Caesar showed his “greatness” by counting all the people under his rule; Jesus showed His true greatness by becoming one of the people.
It was never Caesar who was in control and in power; it was God who had allowed everything to be in place so redemptive story could unfold just as He planned.
Whenever we proudly “count” all the great things we’ve done, or don’t give credit to God for the blessings in our lives, we imitate Caesar’s hubris. We become sad little tyrants, mini-wanna-be-kings of our lives.
As we go into the second day of Lent, let us look upon our King and simply worship Him. As we lay down our pride at his feet, let us repent for our desire to be exalted and known and lifted – our foolish desire to be God, just like Caesar. Let us worship the humble King, who was born in the power of the Spirit, to live and die for His people.
A Prayer: Lord, thank you for laying down everything for us. You are not a Tyrant-king using us to make yourself feel good. You are the humble King who laid it all down to be one of us, live among us, and die for us on the cross. Help us to exhibit the same kind of love that lays it all down for you and others. Empower us at work, at home, at school, everywhere. Amen.