Read John 14:23-31
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire” (Romans 2:1 NLT).
Just recently I took a day off, a bit of a mental health day so-to-speak after an extremely long and difficulty week. During that time off, I decided to watch a movie classic with one of the most famous leading ladies in film history. The film I watched was the EPIC four hour and eleven minute film, Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor and her then soon-to-be husband, Richard Burton.
Taylor starred as the legendary Ptolemaic Queen, Cleopatra VII Philopater, who co-ruled over Egypt with her brother, Ptolemy XIV, and Richard Burton starred as legendary politician, general, hero, and one of three Triumvir of the Roman Republic during the second Triuvirate. This may look like Latin to you, but the role of Triumvir will be evident shortly.
Queen Cleopatra VII Philopater, commonly referred to simply as Cleopatra, was a bold and brassy queen who believed that she was the living embodiment of Isis. Divinity is something that rulers often claim as a part of their right as rulers. Thus, Cleopatra’s people worshipped her as a god. While she co-ruled with her younger brother, Cleopatra was the true ruler with authority and it she eventually poisoned her brother in order for her and Julius Caesar’s son, Caesarion, to ascend to the throne as it’s legitimate heir.
Cleopatra is mostly known today for her illustrious affairs with Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. In fact, she married Caesar while he was in Alexandria Egypt, despite him already being married to Calpurnia, and she conceived of his first and only biological son, Caesarion. Cleopatra’s angle, of course, was a political one. By marrying Caesar, she would not just be queen of Egypt, but queen of the known world. What’s more, she pushed Caesar’s already bloated ambition to new heights, causing Roman Republic patriots such as the esteemed Marcius Brutus and fellow Senators Gaius Cassius, Servilius Casca, Pacuvius Labeo, Gaius Trebonius, Tillius Cimber, Decimius Brutus, Minucius Basilus, Publius, and one other unknown senator to conspire, plot and execute the assassination of Julius Caesar.
Enter Marc Antony, who was related to Caesar and was outraged by the assassination. He and Caesar’s adopted son Octavian, waged war on Brutus, Cassius and the conspirators. Eventually, Antony and Octavian won and the conspirators committed suicide to avoid capture and dishonor. Following the victory, a Triumvirate was created, dividing the Republic into three regions, each ruled by one of the three triumvirs. The Capital of Rome would be ruled mutually by all three.
Long story short, Antony ended up meeting with, falling in love with, and dying with Cleopatra. Like she did with Caesar, she played on Antony’s ego, getting him to claim that his portion of the Triumvirate was Cleopatra’s to rule and forcing Octavian and Rome to wage war on them. This, ultimately, ended up in them losing the war and committing suicide to avoid capture and dishonor. Caesarion did ascend to the throne after his mother; however, he, too, was eventually put to death at the order of Augustus, who by that time, was Emperor of a new Empire that included Egypt.
All of this history to point out what should be obvious by now, the world’s way of winning and maintaining peace is totally messed up. In fact, under Imperator Caesar Augustus, the world was seen to undergo a “Golden Era” of peace and prosperity; however, if we look at Antony, Cleopatra and Caesarion, we can also see the cost of such peace and prosperity. The only way Rome was ever able to maintain peace was through violence and the sword.
This is NOT Christ’s way at all! While the world maintains peace through violence (e.g. peace through strength) and claims that to be the only way to have peace, Christ teaches us that true PEACE comes from him and him alone. What’s more, the only way to have that peace is to submit to him and his way. In fact, any other way but Christ’s will lead to the same kind of peace Antony, Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and Caesarion enjoyed.
Thus, how to we attain such peace? Simple. We submit our lives to Christ and follow his lead instead of the world’s. Instead of peace through strength, we will show peace through justice, mercy, and humility. Christ teaches us that there can be no peace if there is no justice. Such peace is false and fleeting. Peace comes through reconciling ourselves with God and with our neighbors in a way that promotes and grows God’s Kingdom.
The peace this world gives is quickly taken away from us at any given moment; however, Christ’s peace is eternal and never ending. The question for us is this, will we go the way of Caesar or the way of Christ. Whichever way we choose will determine whose name we get to claim as ours. For me, and hopefully for you, Christ is the ONLY option to take.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Only through Christ can one attain true peace.
May God give me strength to follow Christ without hesitation or delay. Amen.