At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. (Luke 2:1–5 NLT)
Two years after the assassination of Julius Caesar, a temple was built on the site where he was cremated and he was formally deified. In an effort to solidify his connection to “Divine Julius,” his adoptive father, Augustus added the title Divi Filius—“son of the divine” or son of god—to his name. A little more than forty years later, shortly before being displaced by a decree by Augustus, an angel visited a young woman and told her that she would give birth to the Son of God. Where Augustus took on the title of son of god for himself, Jesus only refers to Himself as Son of God a handful of times; nearly every instance of this phrase in reference to Jesus comes from a disciple, an apostle, a demon, or someone other than Jesus using it to either question or affirm His authority or identity.
Luke seems to further emphasize this contrast between Jesus and Caesar Augustus by including the genealogy of Jesus, which begins with Joseph, Jesus’s adoptive father, and ends with “Adam was the son of God” (Luke 3:38). As Seattle pastor Kurt Willems puts it, the claim that Augustus is the son of god “is turned upside down by a baby. . . . What was supposed to be true of Caesar, it turns out is actually true of Jesus!”
In the upside-down Kingdom of God, we are invited to follow in the footsteps of the Son of God, who, rather than lifting up Himself to a position of authority and honor, lived as a servant to all. Find ways throughout your day to emulate Christ by humbling yourself and lifting up others.