January 28, 2024

Under Caesar’s Nose

Acts 28:16, 30-31

When the centurion . . . saw how [Jesus] died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

—  Mark 15:39

Paul had been jailed because of false charges from the religious leaders in Jerusalem. So he used his Roman citizenship to appeal his case all the way to the judgment seat of Caesar in Rome (Acts 21-26).

From Egypt to Britain, from Spain to Armenia, the Roman Empire was Caesar’s world. Citizens and slaves bowed to him. They feared his armies, which brought him victory. They used his coins, which declared him “the Son of God.”

Before the appointment, Paul spent two years under house arrest in Rome. During that time, he welcomed all sorts of visitors. And he spoke boldly about the kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus.

Think about that. In the capital city of Caesar’s empire, Paul proclaimed another kingdom and another Lord. Yes, that Lord had died on one of Caesar’s crosses. But to a Roman commander who witnessed that death, it was obvious that Jesus, not Caesar, was “the Son of God.”

The kingdom of God, by its very existence, and the Lord Jesus, by his supreme authority, are a direct challenge to every realm and ruler on earth. The law of Christ overrules every contrary human law. And the way of the kingdom sets aside every other way.

Every bit of this is good news. But it’s also dangerous news, unwelcome by the powers and authorities of this world. Nevertheless, in Christ we are citizens of his kingdom and under his authority. Even if that means suffering on a cross.

Jesus, we humble ourselves before you. May every realm and every ruler do the same. Amen.

About the author — Bob Arbogast

Bob Arbogast is the pastor of Celebration Fellowship church in Ionia, Michigan. In his spare time, he plays guitar in a West Michigan blues band. He and his wife Jan have been married forty years and have three adult daughters. Bob has been praying the psalms since 2002.

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