When the angel announced to Mary, In Luke 1:32 that her son would be “very great and will be called the Son of the Most High,” we can’t help but celebrate. But, back then, those words would have been absolutely explosive. When Jesus was born, Herod was king over Palestine. But way more powerful than Herod was Caesar Augustus… the leader of the Roman Empire, the most powerful man in the world. Now, when Caesar was a young man, he was adopted by Julius Caesar, the one who brought the Roman Empire together.
When Caesar died, there were some who claimed they saw him ascending to the heavens riding a comet. And so, because of this, he was officially declared a god. And so, because Caesar Augustus was Julius Caesar’s adopted son, he was declared the “son of god.” And, for many he lived up to that reputation, having led Rome into its famous Pax Romana, a period of over 200 years of relative peace. In fact, because he brought peace even into some of the more “uncivilized” parts of the world, he was also proclaimed the Savior of Rome.
You see, in Mary’s day, the “good news” that was regularly announced throughout the Empire was that Caesar Augustus, the son of god, has become the savior of his people… the one who has brought peace on earth. You start attributing that kind of language to somebody other than Caesar and you better know that you’re taking your life into your hands. And yet, that’s exactly what the angel said to Mary about the Son who would be born to her.
“Don’t be afraid, he said, “for I bring you Good News of great joy, which shall be for all people. For today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord” Luke 2:10-14. Here is the Gospel, Mary… the Son of God, the Savior of the World has been born to bring peace on earth… and it ain’t Caesar! In fact, He will be greater than all other kings… the King of kings. The One, born into this world with the sole mission of giving His life as a ransom for many, is the only light that can really guide us in this dark world.
In fact, in speaking of the coming Messiah, the Prophet Isaiah said, in Isaiah 9:1, that “In that time, the people walking in darkness will see a great light… and those living in the land of the shadow of death will know that a light has dawned.” In response to all the darkness and lostness in the world, God didn’t send a warning… or an army or rebuke. He didn’t send a great punishment or an idea or religion. Instead, He sent a Person… His Son. He sends Jesus, the “Light of the World.”
No matter what your circumstances might be right now… whether everything is going pretty well or things seem like they’re crumbling… just know that there is no foundation upon which you could ever build a life… nothing of this world that can offer you real peace… not money, not reputation, not a perfect relationship, not a great resume or job security or beauty… nothing except the Messiah who has come into this world bring us life. And there’s no greater purpose in life, than to join in the mission of Jesus, than to reflect His light to the world around us.