Gaius Octavius became the first Roman emperor by working behind the scenes to consolidate his power. He changed his name to Gauis Julius Caesar Octavianus, after his adoptive father, and then promoted the idea of Caesars (Roman emperors) being divine—allowing him to be considered the son of a god. Eventually, Octavius took the title of Augustus Caesar—sole ruler of Rome—whose spirit was deemed worthy of worship by his people.

Jesus, “though he was God . . . did not think equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being” (Philippians 2:6-7). The actual Son of God used the emperor’s census decree to fulfill the prophecy that the Messiah would come out of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Luke 2:1-4).

Born in a humble manger (Luke 2:7), the Son of God associated with society’s lowest throughout His ministry. This prompted religious leaders of the day to wonder why He ate with such “scum” (Mark 2:15-16). The answer was that Jesus didn’t have an agenda of focusing on Himself; rather, He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).

In doing so, “he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:8-11).

Augustus was ruthless in his efforts to attain a man-made declaration of divinity. Jesus obediently emptied Himself in humility and attained the only divine name by which we can be saved. May we live out His humble ways by His power.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10