Letter To Our Children

by Pastor Joe | March 16, 2022 | Letters To Our Children


March 16, 2022

Beware the Ides of March!


The warning to Julius Caesar in William Shakespeare's play of the same name



In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.

Luke 2:1

Caesar, Ides of March

Hello Friends!


I have five older brothers. One of them often sends “National Day of _____” updates on our family text feed. For example, yesterday was National PI Day, not PI as in apple, cherry, or blueberry but PI as in the very important number in math, which begins 3.14. March 11th was National Oatmeal Nut Waffle Day. March 9th National Get Over It Day.


Well, today (the day I am writing) is March 15th. On the morning of March 15th, 44 years before the birth of Christ, as Caesar was speaking to the Roman Senate, he was ambushed and assassinated.


Caesar had designated his grandnephew, Gaius Octavian, whom he adopted as his son, to succeed him as emperor. As those things often went, it was not an easy transition. Multiple times Octavian's authority was to be challenged. Finally, in the famous naval battle at Actium 31 B.C., Octavian fought all his opposition, including Mark Antony, and won. The Roman Senate decided to reward Octavian with a new name, Caesar Augustus. Yes, that one!

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (Luke 2:1)

Caesar Augustus' name is widely well known not because of what he did, and he did many brilliant things, rather because of the birth of Christ. The name of one of the most powerful emperors of all time is well known mostly because of the baby born far away in the humblest situation.


What is very telling is many Roman Emperors thought of themselves as divine- gods. Caesar Augustus did not think of himself that way. The man who adopted him, Julius Caesar, did. Therefore, Caesar Augustus would sign all his official correspondence documents and allowed himself to be called the Son of God. He also accepted the title of Savior of the world. In fact, it was just at this time when the true Son of God and Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ was born.


Soon after, Christians in the Roman empire had to choose between Caesar and Christ. Sometimes the choices were public and would threaten their life. Sometimes they were private and told them personally about their relationship with Christ. It could not have been easy. But most held the line, and because they did, by God's plan and power, Christianity continued to spread.


The Roman persecution of Christians stopped in the 4th century. Christians who died because they would not honor the emperors as saviors or gods were given great respect. Even though they no longer lived, people didn't want to forget them. Shrines were built next to their tombs and became a place people could go to remember their sacrifice and pray.


At first, it seemed like a good thing. As time went on, some people began to think that the martyrs had special power in heaven, and they would hear people's prayers and get God to answer them. This caused some to think they could not pray directly to God but had to pray to a martyr to talk to God for them. (Nothing like what the Bible teaches.)


So, in a similar way, emperors were thought of as gods; some people began to wrongly believe the way to get God to hear your prayers was not because Jesus won that right for them at the cross, but because the martyrs had special access to God.


It can be easy to stray from God’s truth; you don’t have to be a Roman Emperor to do this. May God help us to remember this. Beware of what happened after the Ides of March.


God bless you this week in all things!

Pastor Joe