Peace on earth, good will to men
Our world seems out of control in many ways. Political tensions in our own country and in other countries around the world are in the news every day. Storms, flooding, wildfires, earthquakes, and the tremors of our planet are constantly taking a toll in one place or another
Are we that different than the world into which Jesus Christ was born, over 2,000 years ago? I think not.
The Roman Empire was spreading slowly but surely, imposing their political rule across countries and continents. Herod the Great, even as king, was directly under their influence. Rome was in a way, the power behind his throne and his reign. He had to cooperate with the Roman agenda, and his armies had to submit to the authority of Rome or he would have been replaced with someone easier to get along with.
It was Roman law that required Mary and Joseph to go to Bethlehem as part of a “head count,” and to be taxed. The people of Judea were not happy being ruled by the wealthy Romans far away. The taxes people paid were not used to improve the local economy, or develop their social structure, but rather to add to the wealth of those who ruled Rome. I’ve read an estimate that all those in Judea may have had to pay as much as 50 percent in land, animals and crops. The local kings, such as Herod, prospered according to the way they supported the Roman rule and added to that wealth.
The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, with a pregnant Mary riding much of the way on the back of a donkey was over very rough terrain. When we think of their journey, most of us don’t realize that they had to cover about 100 miles of rough travel, with little comfort along the way. Their journey took days. They didn’t get to choose a more convenient time to make the journey. It was mandatory.
No wonder there was discontent between the common people and the ruling class. The rich got richer and cared little for the poor, except that they work harder and pay more in taxes. Tensions were mounting and those who ruled underestimated the will and resolve of ordinary people.
The Jews of that time of Jesus’ birth knew there was the promise of Messiah, but many were mistaken about God’s purpose in His birth. They wanted a political leader who would lead them and set them free from oppression. They had experienced oppression as slaves in Egypt, and even though they had returned to occupy their homeland, they were under the oppression of Roman rule.
Little did they realize that God’s gift of His son was to deliver them from the oppression of sin and its results. Endued with the power of God on earth, Jesus came to preach good tidings unto the meek; to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. (Isaiah 61:1). God sent his Son to do for mankind what mankind could not do for themselves. He sent His son to be the bridge between fallen humanity and Holy God.
When the angels proclaimed, “Peace on earth and good will toward men,” at the time of Jesus’ birth, they were announcing an eternal state between God and man.
“For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe on Him would not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Earthly kingdoms rise and fall. Kings reign and tumble. Political powers come and go. The relationship between God and man through His Son, Jesus Christ, is forever.
Reach Judith Victoria Hensley at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook. Check out her blog: One Step Beyond the Door.