In chapter 2 of his gospel, Luke compares and contrasts Caesar Augustus and Jesus Christ.
As the ruling Roman emperor at this time, Caesar Augustus was the hope of the world. He was hailed as the Savior, praised with songs of acclamation, honored as the promoter of peace, and worshipped as Lord.
It is these exact attributes that Luke ascribes to Jesus. In Luke’s estimation, the emperor is but a shadow, a parody, of the real, true King who has appeared on the historical landscape.
Jesus is the rightful ruler of the world, the true bringer of peace, the real and long-awaited Messiah. It is him we should honor and praise; him we should declare our allegiance to; him we should celebrate.
Luke’s proclamation undermines the power of mighty empires, the supremacy of ruling figures, and the attitudes of domination and enslavement that oppress others. He’s claiming that Jesus has come to turn everything on its head; that in Jesus, God is ushering in a new way of doing things. He’s announcing a new kingdom, a new type of royalty.
If we fully grasped this, our attitudes during Advent would be quite different.
Jesus’ birth was a historical game changer. It challenged, uprooted, and subverted the norms, expectations, and attitudes of his time.
May we allow it to do the same present day.
*All of the content (and title) for this post was taken from Craig Keener’s lecture, “Expectation and Human Flourishing”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55igrtewmfw