Matthew 2:3-7, 12-13 (NLT)
King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared.
When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
There is no greater threat to a King’s rule than the birth of a new potentate. Herod might have been an evil man but he wasn’t stupid. The announcement of Jesus’ birth meant that there would be a challenge to his authority and in his mind that was unacceptable. Are we really any different?
Let’s be honest, we love being Lord over our Lives. We love having absolute rule over our private domain and the idea of another taking the throne of our hearts and minds is more than unsettling. It is why we fight so hard to keep our seat of power.
King Herod’s desire to kill the child should not be shocking to us. We seek to do the same, don’t we?
We determine our destiny. We ensure our place of power. It’s quite easy to allow Jesus to save us from our sins but quite difficult to make him Lord of our Lives.
It is one of the reasons we enjoy the Christmas Story so much. This little baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths and laying in a manger is no threat to the sovereignty of our souls. It is a peaceful moment in which God is helpless and we are master. It is only that moment when we realize that this child is also the Master of the Universe, which includes our hearts and lives, that we feel the threat and respond to the challenge.
As despicable a character as Herod is in this story, we are truly no different. Unlike the wise men who bring gifts and pledge their allegiance, we follow Herod’s path – we may not seek to kill the newborn King but we certainly prefer to keep him in the manger as long as possible.
It’s not a bad idea to rethink our approach. It isn’t the worst suggestion to hand over the keys to the kingdom that is our heart, our soul, our every life.
Dear Jesus, King,
Free us from the tyranny that is our own reign. Help us to bow to your rule and to recognize your authority; to follow your lead, where ever it might take us.