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12/15/2005

AND THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE ON HIS SHOULDERS

LUKE 2:1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.

Augustus. Born Octavius, adopted son of Julius. Heir to the throne of the great Roman empire. Julius was so proud of his boy, and himself, that he forged a coin in Gaul, distributed across the empire, to honor them both. On one side, the face of Julius. On the other, the face of Octavius. Written across both were the words, "Divine Caesar and the Son of God".

Powerful men are often in love with themselves. That's nothing new. Megalomania is as common among the famous as flies among the poor. But few call themselves gods. And Julius wasn't the only one adoring himself and his offspring this way. Emperor worship was the national religion, most fervent in Asia minor where the greatest number of Christians, followers of a rival Jewish king, would one day lose their lives for refusing to honor Caesars and their empire. Julius was a god to his people. A full fledged god. Capable, so they thought, of controlling the earth below and the sky above, capable of creating and sustaining their very lives,

But his own life wouldn't last forever. And when Octavius ascended his father's throne he dubbed himself "Augustus." Not the humblest of names. No, Augustus means "worthy of reverence and worship." Like his father, Augustus reigned as god over his kingdom.

Until 17BC, when a strange star appeared in the sky. The great Roman thinker and writer Virgil interpreted the sign for him. "The turning point of the ages has come." Utopia is on the horizon, the dawning of a new and great era has arrived, through the great Augustus.

Now, there were shepherds watching their flocks and an angel appeared to them with a different interpretation. (LUKE 2:10-11) "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."

"Christ". The rescuer.

"Lord". Emperor. King. The King.

This was the day the Jewish prophet Isaiah had written of, the day power changed hands on earth. "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

"Government." Power. Rule. Not a system. Not a senate or an office. The ultimate authority. The right to reign.

"On his shoulders." Passed on. Bestowed upon. The power and position that Caesars believed they held, that dictators crushing the Jews for centuries wielded, the authority and control exercised by mere mortals sitting on thrones inherited from Fathers and Mothers - this mantel is handed to a child heralded by the night sky Caesar claims to conduct.

A new King. A new kingdom. The kingdom of God lying in a manger, growing in Nazareth, learning from the rabbis, wearing his prayer shawl, preaching in the synagogue, ""The Spirit of the Lord is on ME, because He has anointed ME to preach good news to the poor. He has sent ME to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18-19)

Revolution has come to a manger, come through a Jewish rabbi born to a virgin in the Middle East. And an empire, a god, a savior, is overthrown. A new kingdom for the poor of spirit, the mourning and the quitters that would outlast the reign of all Caesars has come.

So great would the Christ's influence be that one man, a follower of his named Peter, would announce, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) Peter. A revolutionary like his Master. What a rebellious pronouncement he made. Rebellious? Yes. For before Peter ever spoke these words about Christ, Augustus had written them about himself on Roman coins, " Caesar Augustus. There is no other name given to men by which we may be saved." Peter reminded us all, for all times in all nations, that only Christ saves the oppressed, the sick and the sinful.

What the nativity scene dimly lit on our mantles fails to capture for us is the defiance, the seditiousness of the Christ Peter knew well. The placid figurines leave us wondering why anyone would want to kill this precious child. Remember though. Asleep on that hay is the King of kings come to do through his people what no Caesar could, come to bow every knee, erase every border, destroy every flag, save every soul, free every captive, feed every stomach, open every eye, right every injustice - and do so by giving up His own life, not by taking another's.

Wonderful Counselor. Mighty God. Everlasting Father. Prince of Peace.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Mike said...

Shawn,

Again, you amaze me with your imagery in wording!! :) Yet another essay of yours I will bookmark!!! Excellent!!

12/16/2005  
Blogger Dave Haupert said...

Awesome! Hey Shaun, are there references for any of this? I would love to find out where I can read more about some of the historical Roman empire side of this.

12/16/2005  
Blogger Mustard Packet Pelter said...

Shaun,
Are you ever gonna end the "Just War Doctrine" series you started 2 months ago?

12/16/2005  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Great stuff Shaun. Thanks for sharing.

Beth

12/16/2005  
Blogger Rica said...

Very thought-provoking, Shaun! I love it!!

12/16/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

I'll finish it after I get unpacked and find my notes. I'm not winging the end of the series. It's about to involved US history and, um, unfortunately I don't know that by memory. Need my notes.

Thanks for asking though. I'll get back to Just War in time.

SG

12/16/2005  
Blogger Mustard Packet Pelter said...

If you need Us History notes looks no further!! Just finished American histroy 2! I've got plenty of history notes! You need them I got'em! Just PM me or email me or leave me a message here and if you give me an idea of what your lookin for I can help out! I am crazy about history!! I'm like an idiot savant it's the only thing i'm good at...history. Anyway yeah get unpacked and everything!

12/17/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Penelope is sick. Way sick. Can't eat anything without getting sick. And Gresham and I have fevers and cold symptoms. So all that's slowed the unpacking process down a bit.

But I did find my Just War folder on accident this evening. I can now resume the longest most boring series in SHLOG history. Well, not boring to the mustard pelter.

I'll get on that.

SG

12/17/2005  
Blogger Mustard Packet Pelter said...

Egads!! I feel for you my friend. Baby with a stomach virus ewwy. You and your boy get better and I don't want to hear any buts. Get yourself to bed! Shlog's can be put on hold till you get better.

You just happen to find your "Just War" fold on accident, yeahh right like I'm gonna believe that. You went diggin for it didn't you? Are you just trying to appease me? Shut me up maybe? *insert crazy eyes here*It's all a conspiracy I tell you!!*end crazy eyes here* Anyway don't finish it on my account get better first. Let's play make a deal. I'll shut up and stay on the topic of the day's Shlog if you promise to get better before you start goin off on Just War to appease me. Do we have a deal Kemo Sabe?

12/18/2005  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Sorry to hear you're feeling down. Being sick yourself is no fun at all and coupled with sick kids, especially on top of moving in, finishing the Christmas tour, etc. has got to be taking its toll. You and your family will be in my prayers for a quick recovery and a peaceful Christmas (is that possible with 3 kids?). BTW, Bruce's CD should be in Tuesday so I'll get a copy in the mail to you soon. He ordered 1000 for this first run.

Beth

12/18/2005  

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