There’s a hugely popular new TV series on Amazon called The Man in the High Castle. It’s this very disturbing drama with an alternate view of history, as if the Allies had lost WWII and Japan and Germany took over the U.S. It’s really a scary thought. Imagine if the Eastern US states were under the rule of a Hitler, and the Western states were under a Japanese Emperor. Now, history tells us that the Emperor was said to be the “son of God.” It’s not surprising that in the series, Bibles were few and far between. Jews worshiped in secret, and Christians were silent.
It really isn’t that different of a situation than what we see in 1st Century Palestine. The Jews lived in their Promised Land, but they were a conquered people. The first Roman Emperor reigned during the time of Jesus’ birth.
So, now it’s important that we take a lesson in numismatics (coin collecting). Do you know was inscribed on Roman coins?
Well, let’s look at one example (source),
The front of the coin has Octavian (Agustus Caesar) with the inscription, “DIVIF,” which stands for “Divini Filiu” meaning “Son of the Divine.” The back as the words, “DIVOS IVLIVS” or “Divine Julius,” i.e., saying the Julius Caesar was divine.
So, the Roman Empire proclaimed loudly that there was a son of God, and it’s Caesar! It was a dark world in which God’s people had been conquered and were subjugated and were longing for a Savior, someone who would redeem them and save them from Roman rule.
Well, the earliest gospel is the gospel of Mark. It seems that it was written to a Roman audience, maybe even the city of Rome. And, to these Romans, to these subjects of Caesar, Mark opens with words that might not mean a lot to a 21st Century American, but would mean everything to a 1st Century Roman:
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God, ” Mark 1:1.
Mark’s good news is this: There’s a new king in town.
This has huge implications for the way we read the rest of the book of Mark. This post on RadicallyChristian talks about how this affects how we read the whole New Testament.
What does this mean to you that Jesus is the son of God? What does it mean to say that Jesus is King?