Today is Presidents’ Day, the time when we remember the past leaders of our country. If we were in Jesus’ time, we might be remembering those who ruled during his lifetime and intersected his mission.
Herod. King over all Israel (37-4 BC) though under Roman sovereignty and Emperor Augustus. He tried to kill Jesus after his birth and left many dead in the wake of his effort.
Augustus. Emperor of Rome and the one who demanded the Jewish census, uprooting much of the population, which forced Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, fulfilling the prophecy of the location of his birth.
Herod Antipas. “Tetrarch” of Galilee and Perea (4 BC-AD 39). The one who beheaded John the Baptist and received Jesus with the hope of seeing a miracle on the morning of his crucifixion.
Pontius Pilate. Roman Governor (26-36) who presided at the “trial” of Jesus. Put into history a famous image (washing his hands of any guilt over Jesus crucifixion) and a famous phrase, “What is truth?”
While we look back on our leaders with a certain amount of respect and admiration (most of them at least), there is not a lot to recommend this group, though Augustus ended a civil war and brought peace to Rome. However, his ascension marked the end of the old Republic and the start of the Roman Empire ruled by Caesars, most of whom claimed godhood for themselves.
Instead, we as Christians can celebrate the ascension of the final ruling descendant of King David, as Jesus of Nazareth takes his rightful place at the right hand of the Father: King of Kings, Lord of Lords.
That may grate on some of our democratic sensibilities, but no matter. He is who he is and we must deal with it.
Grace and peace to your day.