In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Luke 2:1-2
It’s interesting that Luke makes a point of saying this census was the very first one. A new census was conducted from time to time, but taxes were demanded every year. The religious leaders challenged Christ about these taxes in Matthew 22:17. When Christ was arrested, they even falsely accused him of telling people not to pay taxes to the Romans. The Israelites paid their taxes unwillingly and hated the taxation and laws of the Roman emperor. They claimed that because they were God’s people, they ought to be free from the emperor. They argued over whether they should have to pay tribute money at all. But they had to pay it anyway because they couldn’t defend themselves by force. They wanted to pull Christ into the middle of this dispute and hand him over to the Roman authorities. So this census was nothing more than a common duty in all lands. Every year, a tribute was due from every person.
Notice how Luke chooses his words precisely. The birth of Christ occurred during the reign of Caesar Augustus and while Quirinius was governor of Syria – the Roman district that included Israel at that time. The fact that Christ was born during the first census shows that his kingdom wasn’t political and his reign wasn’t over secular rulers. Instead, he subjected himself and his parents to these rulers.
If Christ had wanted to show that he wouldn’t be subject to others, he could have been born before this census. The timing of Christ’s birth, which was by God’s design and intention, shows us that he didn’t want to reign in the world.
Barnas Sears, D.D.
Controversial and visionary, Luther’s life is revealed in this rare presentation of his work as an educator and church leader. From his birth and childhood, to his religious education, and the events leading up to the Protestant Reformation, you will discover the views and experiences that led to his excommunication by the Pope in 1520. Correspondence and accounts shed further light on Luther’s defiant translation of the Bible from Latin to the language of the common man.
This unique biography is reproduced from an 1850 American Sunday School Union original, and in it you will be introduced to the pivotal life of this enigmatic man before, during, and after one of Christianity’s defining events.