The Fifth Day of Christmas: Dethroning Caesar

Ever hear people complain that things are too political today? That’s just the human condition. Jesus got very political. The New Testament uses politically freighted language all the time — we miss it because we don’t know the culture, the same way a visitor to the US might miss the political meaning of the words “red” and “blue” today. 

Jesus was born into the Roman empire, and the Romans didn’t care even slightly which gods you worshipped, or how many. You could do what you wanted, as long as you showed up once a year to burn your pinch of incense to the divine emperor and say your loyalty oath: “Caesar is Lord.” 

So when early Jesus-followers chose to express their faith in the words “Jesus is Lord,” everybody knew they also meant: “…and Caesar is not!” And true to their confession, they refused to confess Caesar as Lord, refused to burn the pinch of incense to a mere man. The Divine Word became flesh in Jesus, and once we’ve met the real thing, we can’t pretend some dude is divine just because he sits on a throne. They were maimed, burned, exiled, crucified, sent to the lions–ironically for the charge of “atheism”–because they would not worship a political leader as a god. Through it all, they maintained their confession: Jesus is Lord…and Caesar is not.

Is there someone who wrongly occupies that position of “Lord” in your life? Someone whose disapproval stops you from doing what you’re called to do, someone whose opinion matters more to you than right or wrong?

Perhaps it’s time to dethrone your personal “Caesar.”


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