The almighty creator of all things once tabernacled himself into a limited flesh-and-bone existence to become like mankind in order to redeem mankind, the pride of all his creation, from their own machinations and corruptions of his original intended purpose for that flesh and bone. The Son of God, whose divine existence was not even limited to the jurisdiction of Space-Time, became the Son of Man and subjected himself to human ideas about socio-political jurisdictions, in order to navigate them in perfection and to conquer them in the gambit of sacrifice, never compromising his role as the humbled God-man and servant-King.
He was conceived into the house of David both in accordance with the flesh through his mother’s lineage, and in accordance with the law through adoption by his legal father’s lineage. Before he was born, he skirted the Massacre of the Innocents, decreed by the ethnarch Herod Archelaus who recognized Christ as the prophesied, rightful King over the lands allotted to Archelaus by the imperialism of Rome under Caesar Augustus, and therefore threatening the hard-won political and social dominion won by Archelaus’ father, Herod the Great. Mary and Joseph had fled with Christ to Egypt, one of the most significant nations in Israel’s history where God’s people, ever the unfaithful fornicators, subjected themselves under the jurisdiction of Pharaoh who promised to feed them and house them and give them religious liberty if they subjected themselves to Pharaoh’s laws of the land and decrees such as federal taxes and injunctions to abort their children at the time of Moses’ birth. It is fitting that Christ must flee the land where He came to play savior to the people and revisits the land where Moses played savior to the people.
For the 25th anniversary of the reign of Caesar Augustus, Joseph and Mary were recalled to Bethlehem for the celebrations honoring the emperor by naming him the Father of the Country (pater patriae) and to enroll themselves in the special census that was decreed. This sort of fealty to Commander-in-Chiefs would later be proscribed by Christ who instructs us to ‘call no man Father’.
“The year 2 B.C. marked the 25th anniversary of Caesar Augustus’s rule and the 750th anniversary of the founding of Rome. Huge celebrations were planned. The whole empire was at peace. The doors of the temple of Janus were closed for only the third time in Roman history. To honor their emperor, the people were to rise as one and name him pater patriae, or Father of the Country. This enrollment, described in the Book of Luke, which brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, has always been a mystery since no regular census occurred at this time. But the pater patriae enrollment fits perfectly.” (The Star of Bethlehem by Crag Chester, Imprimis D 96 Hillsdale College)
When Christ began his ministry to redeem his usurped Judean Kingdom, he was sure to be baptized into the Kingdom of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to the exclusion of all other kingdoms of this world, especially the one provided by Herod Antipas, brother to Archelaus. This refusal to fraternize with or throw his citizenship into the nations of this world is the most basic, fundamental aspect of what we call Christianity. Understanding the sin of serving magistrates and rendering unto ‘Caesar’ that which is God’s, through social welfare or compacts, contracts, and covenants, Christ chose to rather be the savior of the people and see them baptized into his Kingdom rather than the New Deal provided by Herod or the New World Order provided by Rome. The Pharisees, however, had no scruples against partaking in the economic prosperity, political influence, or the religious freedom provided by the “Benefactors who exercised authority” over flesh and bone.
These Pharisees (and Scribes) were quick to accumulate wealth through Corban, temple taxes and money-changing, inspiring our servant-king to ceremoniously federal employees, terminating their positions and taking the Kingdom away from those who would have political affiliation with governments ordained by men and who, in the spirit of reconstruction, would call this affiliation ‘the Kingdom of Heaven.’ Christ would then turn this government over to those who would remain servants of the people because, the law of God that was written on their hearts prevented them from aspiring to become legislators, congressmen, and heads of State, thereby securing their religion to remain pure and undefiled.
These religious leaders would then appeal to the magistrate, to Rome, to kill Christ and squash his growing Kingdom. Christ could have appealed to Rome to investigate his legitimate claim to the throne of Judea, and they undoubtedly would have found his claim to be true and supportable, but this would have irresponsibly placed whatever political and jurisdictional victory won under the dominion of the authority-exercising Benefactors to which he made appeal. History, as exampled by the Hasmoneans, would surely have been repeated. Instead Christ chose, not to go the way of the pagan, or the way Israel did all throughout history, exchanging their freedoms and responsibilities for the outsourcing lethargy of captivity, but subjected himself to the “higher power” and thus fulfilled the perfect law of liberty. He was unjustly put to death, both as an innocent man and as the rightful King of Judea, and His Creation. But, in the gambit of sacrifice, he secured to himself all those who would obey his commandments and remain free souls under God, thereby winning for all his Ambassadors the Kingdom for which they are anticipating.
To be adopted into Christ’s Kingdom means to forsake all other kingdoms, becoming a royal priesthood that serves mankind through a generous love that sets them free from the bondage of this world, teaching them to forsake the rudiments of the tree that bears no fruit. The Gospel necessarily plucks men from these jurisdictions of man that lead to damnation and places them in the jurisdiction of God that leads to life.
It is the life, death, resurrection, and work of Christ that make it possible for those who endeavor to become free men to have a living and reigning king to justify seeking the kingdom of liberty that he provided. It is for this reason why his incarnation serves as one of two theological principles that warrants and demands our action and message.