In our modern celebration of Christmas, it is a joyous time of the year. But when we look at the origins of the holiday, we find a dark and tragic side. And when we go deeper, we discover how a little baby posed such a grave threat to one man’s power.
One day the whole city of Jerusalem became stirred, when a large entourage of wise men arrived. Nearly two years earlier they observed an unusual light in the sky. They were a group of men who studied the stars. Through their study, God revealed the star was a sign that a king had been born.
Therefore, the wise men were strongly compelled to follow it. They began travelling from their far eastern country and went many miles. They were led to the city of Jerusalem. When they arrived, they began asking, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:2) Their presence and what they were asking troubled the city. Soon King Herod, who governed Jerusalem, was made aware of their arrival and met with them. The wise men asked Herod the same thing.
Decades earlier, the Roman Senate conferred on Herod the title, “King of the Jews.” Herod had a reputation as an evil ruler, for he had executed some of his own family members in his obsession to retain power. So, when the wise men came looking for this baby king who had been born, all Israel knew Herod would go after this political rival, even if He was just a baby.
Herod assembled the religious leaders, and based upon various prophecies it was determined the Baby-King was born in the city of Bethlehem. The wise men travelled there to worship Him. Later, after being tricked by the wise men, Herod ordered all baby boys in the Bethlehem region, two years and younger, to be seized from their families and executed. Pure evil! There was no “joy to the world.” It was a dark time, and an ominous sign of things to come. Jesus’ life would be continually marked by conflicts with those in power. His life would eventually come to a temporary end, when He was crucified by Jewish and Roman leaders. Temporary, because three days later He rose from the dead and foiled their plans.
The person and message of Jesus will pose a conflict with many who are in power. Why? Because it is a battle about authority. It is an inner spiritual conflict of the heart over the Lordship of Jesus. Herod had no intention of bowing before Christ, as the wise men did. Instead, he foolishly sought to destroy Him and a whole city of baby boys.
So many like Herod, are drunk on their own pride. They blind themselves with their hard heart toward the divine hope they so desperately need. As a result, they continue bringing havoc and chaos on themselves and those around them. All the while, they do not understand other people are not their enemy, but it is God. They are opposing the ways of God to their own demise. And just as it drove Herod to absolute madness, it will do the same to anyone else. Herod was rich, famous and powerful, yet He was miserable.
Even so, God showed ruthless Herod, mercy through the wise men. He was given a chance by His Creator to go with them and genuinely worship baby Jesus, but he refused. Today, you are given the same chance. Through Christ, there is good news. If you turn from your pride and submit before Heaven’s King you can have peace. The war within will end. Refreshment from heaven will be poured out upon you.
A prayer for you. “Lord God, I pray you will humble the mightiest and proudest. Send an earthquake upon their lives to reveal they are mere men and women. Then show them mercy. Provide them an opportunity to come and worship the King of Kings and receive His eternal peace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
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