ODB: The Beauty of Rome

June 5, 2016

READ: John 17:1–5 

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God. John 17:3

The glory of the Roman Empire offered an expansive backdrop for the birth of Jesus. In 27 bc Rome’s first emperor, Caesar Augustus, ended 200 years of civil war and began to replace rundown neighborhoods with monuments, temples, arenas, and government complexes. According to Roman historian Pliny the Elder, they were “the most beautiful buildings the world has ever seen.”

Yet even with her beauty, the Eternal City and its empire had a history of brutality that continued until Rome fell. Thousands of slaves, foreigners, revolutionaries, and army deserters were crucified on roadside poles as a warning to anyone who dared to defy the power of Rome.

What irony that Jesus’s death on a Roman cross turned out to reveal an eternal glory that made the pride of Rome look like the momentary beauty of a sunset!

Who could have imagined that in the public curse and agony of the cross we would find the eternal glory of the love, presence, and kingdom of our God?

Who could have foreseen that all heaven and earth would one day sing, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Rev. 5:12).

— Mart DeHaan

Father in heaven, please help us to reflect the heart of Your sacrifice for the world. May Your love become our love, Your life our life, and Your glory our never-ending joy.

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