There are so many lessons to be learned from within the Christmas story. All this week we are looking at what God is teaching us…and seeking to apply His lessons into our lives…
Luke’s account of the birth of Christ begins with a little background information. Unlike the other gospel writers, Luke did not just give us the facts – Luke put those facts into historical context. It is one of the reasons we can know that Luke (and the other writers) are so reliable. He took the time to provide background details accurately – and to give us the assurance that these were real life events happening in a real world (not just a bunch of fabrications for religious purposes).
Jesus was born during the time of the rule of one Caesar Augustus. It may seem strange that Caesar Augustus is the first person mentioned in the Christmas story. But this occurs for a very good (and often unnoticed) reason. This ruler of Rome represents the primary issue that runs deep in every human heart.
At the heart of every person is the desire to rule… and to control our surroundings.
Caesar’s “decree” was mandated to officially register all the people and to provide the means to tax them (and inscript the Roman citizens for military service). It was to take stock of the resources of his reign and to provide the means to bring everything under the control of His rule. In the bigger picture, the decree was Augustus asserting his authority over the lives of everyone in his world and providing himself with his own sense of order and control.
What we see in Caesar Augustus is what we also see in the heart of every person who has ever lived. We are deeply engrained with the desire to rule our own lives, call our own shots, be self-sufficient – and we are eager to make every attempt to control every aspect of our own lives.
Strangely, God put that there. It is, largely, what it means to be “made in His image.”
At the core of the gospel is this one thing… we are each called to lay our own rulership down at the Feet of the One Who rightly deserves to rule over our lives. We must willingly surrender our independence and self-sufficiency, as well as the need to control our own lives. We need to see “Caesar Augustus” within our selves… and officially decree our submission to the One rightful Ruler of our lives.
Jesus came to make the way for that to happen. The Ruler of heaven, laid aside His godly privileges, emptied himself, and came as a helpless child (Philippians 2:7!) – in demonstration of what we all need to do in return. Without Jesus, we are all just trying to rule over our own lives, control our own surroundings, and attempting to order everything in our lives by our own wishes and desires.
But with Jesus, we can relinquish all those things to One Who has pledged to care for our every need out of the deep love and compassion He demonstrated to us when He came into our world.
That Baby in Bethlehem came into a world full of rulers of all types and manners – in order to become the Ruler of every heart.