Sunday, December 19, 2010
An Inconvenient Gospel
Decades before Jesus was born, Rome had already announced the arrival of their Messiah.
Caesar Augustus–the holy king–was hailed as a son of God, a divine ruler, a Savior given to men from the gods, to rule over the whole world. Salvation, according to the Roman political-religion, was found in no one else but Caesar.
Caesar is Lord was inscribed on everything from government buildings to religious temples to Roman coinage. The Roman poet Virgil described the Roman empire as the imperium sine fine–the empire without end, the last monarchy, the final eschatological order of things. The world, according to Roman gospel, had received her Messiah, had been saved by him, was being ruled by him, and had finally entered the golden age of all ages.
But when the Church began to inconveniently proclaim her gospel, virtually every claim it announced, challenged the political correctness of the day. The Apostles spoke a treasonous word when they hijacked Roman terminology, turned it upside down, and applied it to Jesus Christ.
Caesar was not the son of God–Jesus was.
Caesar was not the savior of the world–Jesus was.
Caesar was not a divine king–Jesus was.
Rome was not the final empire of humanity–the kingdom of Jesus was.
When Peter boldly proclaimed that Jesus was Lord and salvation was found in no one else, he was doing nothing less than declaring war against the Roman empire. Those who defied the rule of Jesus would perish. Those who submitted to his authority would be forever blessed.
Rome would fall.
But Jesus’ kingdom was the culminating age of all ages, world without end.
It was Caesar’s word against the word of Jesus.
And by Jesus’ word you have come into his kingdom, and by Jesus’ word you have learned of a ruined Roman empire. Jesus did it. He wrecked it.
See to it you do not refuse him who speaks, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.
Let us be thankful, and worship God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
~ Curt Bakker, July 2005