March 1, 2020

you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”1 Timothy 6:14-16

It’s March and that means it basketball season. In fact, so pronounced is the emphasis on college basketball and its championship tournament, that it is known as March Madness.

However, years ago, 44 BC to be more specific, there was another “March Madness’. This one was a competition that highlighted the Roman Empire’s political conflicts and is now known as the “Ides* of March”. *(“Ides” in Roman vernacular simply means “middle of the month”)

The competition in that year was related to who would rule the republic of Rome. The Senators (of the conservative wing) were alarmed when the main body of the Senate voted to upgrade Julius Caesar’s ruling status from “Dictator” to “Perpetual Dictator”. Fearing Caesar was attempting to create a Monarchy, with himself the head of the State, the conservative senators (the Optimates faction) elected to murder him in order to “save the Republic”. Wikipedia offers this explanation of what followed after that day…

Caesar’s death was a closing event in the crisis of the Roman Republic, and triggered the civil war that would result in the rise to sole power of his adopted heir Octavian (later known as Augustus). Writing under AugustusOvid portrays the murder as a sacrilege, since Caesar was also the Pontifex Maximus of Rome and a priest of Vesta. On the fourth anniversary of Caesar’s death in 40 BC, after achieving a victory at the siege of Perugia, Octavian executed 300 senators and knights who had fought against him under Lucius Antonius, the brother of Mark Antony. The executions were one of a series of actions taken by Octavian to avenge Caesar’s death. Suetonius and the historian Cassius Dio characterized the slaughter as a religious sacrifice, noting that it occurred on the Ides of March at the new altar to the deified Julius.”

What does this have to do with basketball? Nothing.

What does this have to do with Christianity?

Everything, for Augustus, the winner of this political competition, was the ruler of the civilized world when the Ruler of the universe (Jesus, the Son of God) was born. And, ironically, Caesars death was just another false sacrifice. His death was intended to usher in a more prosperous and peaceful order. Instead it resulted in a civil war. While 70 years later, the real “King” whose death would inaugurate a new order was Jesus. His death, burial and resurrection secured both our redemption as well as the peace, men continue to strive for but fail to achieve (John 14:27)!

And what does the “Ides of March” have to do with Master’s Men?

Simply this, we are always in a competition for the hearts and souls of the citizens of earth, as we seek to get their attention; to look to Jesus and not powerful personalities. The primary “competition” is the contest to get men to have both a vertical perspective as well as their horizontal one!

What I mean is this – Yes, we are all citizens of some “republic” or monarchy, or parliamentarian democracy, or socialist dictatorship or some form of “horizontal governance”. And yes, these horizontal governments will always disappoint as their application of power will fail to bring us the peace our souls desire. They are, by God’s ordination, set to rule us for worldly considerations – but they are not meant to, nor will they ever be up to, the task of bringing a heavenly rule, a supernatural peace, to bear on our lives. Nor will they ever be able to govern our moral impulses and behaviors in order to mitigate sin.

No, only The one and true God, The Almighty and only King, can do that – and He is doing that by the power of His indwelling Spirit, for those who have received the gift of eternal life, through the redemption which is, only, in His Son Christ Jesus.

Therefore, we preach Jesus and a salvation by grace through faith. Therefore, we disciple men, to know God more intimately, to live out His commands and precepts more deliberately and to share His love more consistently.

Therefore, we try to live out our namesake; we try to be The Master’s Men – in word and deed, citizens of Heaven yet members of a national community called “my country”.

Thanks for being a part of the movement – thanks for all you do to help us move the ball down the court; that is, the gospel through the neighborhoods of “your country”.

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” 1 Timothy 1:17