The Voice of Irony

Ken Eriks

Read: Luke 2:1-7

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. (v. 1)

One of our family’s favorite traditions around Christmas is watching A Charlie Brown Christmas. Its many memorable scenes and familiar soundtrack are known by heart including Linus reading at length the account of Christ’s birth from the Gospel of Luke. In recent years, however, what was once a 25.5-minute movie has been cut down to about 22 minutes to allow for more commercials. Alas! A movie that laments the over-commercialization of Christmas has been cut down to allow for more ads. Now that is irony.

In these opening verses of Jesus’ birth narrative, Luke is celebrating irony. Caesar thinks he is pursuing his plans by moving people around the empire to take a census. But really, God is arranging for Scripture to be fulfilled. Caesar on his throne thinks he is king. Jesus, “away in a manger, no crib for a bed,” turns out to be the real king. Caesar, who in many parts of the empire is called “Prince of Peace,” is preempted by angels saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:13-14).

You can almost hear Luke chuckling. It may look like business as usual: empires, taxes, armies, death. But there is another story. God is using Caesar’s plans to accomplish divine plans. With a laugh Luke is telling us, “No worries. God is in charge.” —Ken Eriks

Prayer: Lord God, how good to know you faithfully accomplish your plans whatever the situation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.