1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
The Monroe Doctrine, the Truman Doctrine, the word doctrine is not a foreign word in the halls of politics. We are more familiar with it from a Biblical perspective, but it’s not always a matter of faith. Ironically, it is, in a political fashion, found in The Book Of Faith.
The word decree in Luke 2 translates dogma and doctrine. A census was very much part of Augustus’ political doctrine. The reason for this goes back some years before the events of Luke 2. When we read of Augustus, we imagine that he became emperor at a specific time. His powers were actually consolidated over time. One of these periods included a compromise with the Roman Senate called the second settlement.
It was in this settlement, that he was granted powers normally reserved for only the Roman Censor. These included the right to supervise public morals and scrutinize laws to ensure they were in the public interest, as well as the ability to hold a census and determine the membership of the Senate.A Censor also, even in the days of the republic, would occassionally take a Census outside of Rome in the provinces.
One of the reasons for this compromise had been Augustus’ illness. The Senate realized that their entire government now was pinned to the health of one man. Ironically, the most powerful man in the known world, suffered with illness throughout his life. When we first read Luke 2, we imagine mighty Caesar and an infant Christ. While that is true, Caesar was not so mighty, and while Our Lord was a baby, He was more powerful in His infancy, than Augustus was in his strength.
The doctrine of Caesar demanded every man to give account of himself and his family. The purpose was for the pleasure of Rome. Make no mistake, one day, all men both small and great will stand before a Throne far greater than Caesar’s. We will all give an account, but that wasn’t the way that Christ began.
Before He ever asked us to give an account of our birth, of our parents, or of our heritage, He shared His own. He shared His lineage of faith from Abraham to David. As well as to all those who were faithful even though not famous.
We know that Christ’s Mother was just like us, flawed but unflinching. Joseph, while not His Father, loved Him as much as any son. Most of all, because Jesus shared, we can become the sons of God!
God wrapped in flesh, born to die, buried to rise, and alive to resurrect men’s souls! That is the doctrine of Christ. Augustus’ doctrine was birthed out of human frailty, they say he suffered ailments all his life. Our Lord’s doctrine was established to take away our diseases, to overcome our weaknesses, and to share His strength with us.
Thank God that the doctrine of God brings life in every arena. Whether your background is religious, non religious, political, or anything else, The Lord will meet you there. So this Christmas, spend some time getting to know a King who crossed worlds to reach you.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.