While I was in Rome I was thinking about the Roman Empire. When Jesus came into the world as truly God and truly man, the Roman army was occupying Israel, in the time of Caesar Augustus. Nobody would have believed that Jesus had been born of a virgin and they would have considered Him to be the biological son of Joseph, a carpenter.
But Jesus was the Son of God the Father and was to be the Lamb of God that would be the Messiah, the Saviour of all mankind. John writes, ‘He came unto his own, and his own received him not’ (John 1:10-11). Although the religious leaders hated Jesus so much, and clamoured for His crucifixion, they had no political power to do it. Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor who (very reluctantly) gave in to them and pronounced the sentence of death on Jesus.
At the foot of the cross, the centurion said,‘Surely, he was the Son of God!’ (Matthew 27:54). The Romans and the Jews thought that would be the end of the matter! But Jesus Christ victoriously rose from the dead on the third day as He had said He would and made a way for all men to have their sins forgiven and to have eternal life. 40 days after His ascension, the Holy Spirit came on the disciples to enable them to be witnesses to the truth of the Gospel, and in Acts 2, we see Peter addressing the crowd and leading the early Church. Followers of Jesus began to meet and worship the risen Christ.
The Roman Empire was still very powerful and the believers who followed Jesus were dreadfully persecuted, tortured and killed. Emperor Nero at around AD30 wanted to rebuild Rome to his own glory - he set Rome ablaze and blamed the Christians. Huge slaughter of Christians soon began and horrifying carnage followed.
As I looked at the Coliseum which is still amazingly intact, I saw the place where the early Christians were fed to the lions and wild beasts. In the ‘games’ of the gladiators the Christians were set alight as if they were human torches. The martyring of Christians continued, and Christians were stoned, slain with the sword, made destitute, persecuted and tormented.
As a born again believer today, it had a profound impact on me that the cross of Jesus Christ stands on every important building in Rome today – HE IS LORD! I couldn’t help wondering what all the Romans of Jesus' day would make of it. If they could have fast-forwarded and had a picture of today, they would have been amazed. They had never realised then who Jesus truly was.
Here we are 2000 years later; the Roman Empire has been swept away, and Jesus Christ has won the eternal victory over sin, death and hell. He is truly God! He rules and reigns! He is alive today and He lives in us! Hallelujah!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me recognise afresh today that principalities and powers will all pass away but Your kingdom stands forever. Thank You, Lord Jesus, You are coming back to this earth a second time, and that we will live and reign with You in glory because through the finished work of Calvary’s cross, You have forgiven our sins and given us eternal life. Thank You, Lord. Amen.
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