Plato’s Cave: A Christmas Story
Four hundred years before the birth of Jesus, history’s greatest philosopher gave the world an enduring allegory. I’m talking about Plato and his famous allegory of the cave. Plato said we are like prisoners chained in a deep cave lit only by dim torches, so that we exist in darkness watching shadows on the wall. We are imprisoned in deep untruth. What we need is someone to free us from our chains, to lead us out of the dark and into the day. In simplified form that’s the allegory Plato gave to explain the human predicament four hundred years before Caesar Augustus decided to take a census and thereby set in motion events that we remember every December.
You know the story. Joseph and Mary are compelled by imperial degree to travel from Nazareth to their ancestral home in Bethlehem — a little hilltop village five miles south of Jerusalem. A town that would have been utterly inconsequential if it had not been for a bit of historical trivia: a thousand years earlier Bethlehem was the birthplace of David, Israel’s greatest king. To further endow tiny Bethlehem with significance, the prophet Micah in his poems of hope dreamed of the day when an even greater king would be born in Bethlehem — a king whose reign of peace would cover the earth and lead to the abolishment of war.(See Micah 4:1-5; 5:2-5)