Editorial: The Surprise of Christmas

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, “Caesar is Lord” was a political reality. Caesar Augustus ruled the known world.  Would this ever end?

The birth of Jesus was foretold by the prophet Isaiah 700 years before:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Was Jesus Christ born a powerful ruler? No. He was born a baby in a manager. Surprise!

In the days of Caesar, confessing “Jesus is Lord” was also a political statement and a serious crime. Yet Jesus Christ and His church survived the Roman Empire. Christmas remains.

Other empires have risen and fallen since the days of Rome: Mongol Empire, Holy Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Spanish Empire, Qing Dynasty, Habsburg Empire, Ottoman Empire, Empire of Japan, British Empire and many others. All of them are gone.

Yet Jesus Christ remains Lord of lords and King of kings.

In 1922, another empire was formed: the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This Marxist-Leninist country was ruled by the Communist Party for nearly 70 years. The USSR covered one-sixth of the world’s surface and stretched across 11 time zones. The leaders repressed the Russian Orthodox Church and pushed “State Atheism” to rid the country of religion.

During the Cold War, the U.S. pointed nuclear missiles at the Soviets, and the Soviets pointed nuclear missiles at the United States. Foreign-policy experts, generals, admirals and U.S. presidents agreed this battle of super-states would continue indefinitely.

It did – until Christmas Day, 1991, when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as the president of the USSR. He turned his executive powers, including the nuclear launch codes, over to Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The next day, the Supreme Soviet voted itself and the USSR out of existence. A mighty empire dissolved without bloodshed. Surprise!

Another former empire in the history books. Jesus remains King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus also remains the reason for the season of Christmas.

Ever wonder why God sent Jesus into the world? To give us guilt trips? No!

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17)

Are you surprised at this? Don’t be. Don’t believe it? Read the Gospel of John. And pray.

We live in a time of great disunity, heated words and increasing crime in many American cities. We bear taxation and regulatory burdens unimaginable to Romans under Caesar. Yes, we need the Second Amendment today as much as we did when the U.S. Constitution was ratified. Yet we don’t need or want armed rebellion. We need to treat our neighbors as ourselves and seek peace.

During the Christmas season, let us remember the heavenly choir that sang on the night of Jesus’ birth,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Merry Christmas!

Richard Emmons