“Let Earth Receive Her King”
For a story nestled within a body of work collectively known as the Gospels (i.e. “the good news”) the response to the coming of Jesus within the community of Jerusalem’s leadership is striking. We noted yesterday the wonder of the arrival in Jerusalem of people from the East- the place of exile to see Jesus. Today, we wonder in quite a different way at the fact that Herod and the ruling class of Jerusalem- the place of the temple (God’s dwelling), were “troubled” by all of this.
Despite that Herod ruled over Judea, he was in fact an illegitimate king, and a severely corrupt one at that. He lacked any connection to the Davidic line, and had simply been appointed by the Roman Empire. For Herod, the arrival of the king of Israel would mean giving up power, wealth, and control. Herod is the second half of a complete picture painted by Matthew: the infant Jesus gives us glimpses into the future: He will be good news to everyone who is ashamed and lost, and bad news to everyone who desires renown and control.
Despite the folksiness of the Manger scene in modern culture, a real look at this story may draw from us a response similar to Herod’s. Skye Jethani puts it this way: “The character of Herod reminds us that the arrival of Jesus Christ forces every one of us into a crisis. In a way Christmas should trouble all of us because, like Herod, we are all illegitimate rulers.” The arrival of Jesus forces us to step down from our positions as masters of our own fates and determiners of our own identities. Only if we abandon these titles can we truly wonder joyfully at the Advent.
-Are there areas of your life that you keep separate from your Christianity? Do you have plans that Jesus interrupts? How can you allow Jesus to reign in these areas of your life as the true king?