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Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “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.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
(Matthew 2:1-6, ESV)
This passage reminds us that Christmas is so much more than Santa and gifts under the tree. Indeed, it is so much more than Jesus coming to save us from an eternal separation from Him (which it absolutely is). This story of Herod, a King whom the Romans instated to rule over the Jews and keep them under control, cuts to the heart of a one of the most epic, universal themes in Biblical story: God’s ultimate victory against the forces of evil in the world.
Herod was an evil man and a tyrant. He was so desperate to maintain his hold on power that the ancient historian Josephus records him as having a constant bodyguard of 2,000 soldiers! So it’s no surprise that when he saw the wonder of these wise men from the east and the gifts they carried, he instantly grew jealous and saw the Baby Jesus as a threat to his power (see Matthew 2:16-18).
But on another level, Herod was just a puppet, being influenced by forces of evil who knew exactly who Jesus was. He was not merely a Baby, born in a feeding trough, but a mighty King, prophesied centuries before – whose birth was planned before God created the world. These forces knew Jesus’ birth represented the advent of a new age – an age where their power and influence on the world would begin to be lost forever. These enemies knew Jesus was the Savior King who would start a resistance against the evil empire (yes, George Lucas got the idea from the Bible) once people began to put their faith in Him and live by His Spirit.
This Christmas season, we can take great comfort in the battle Jesus won for us. We don’t need to fear His reign in our lives, for where the Good Shepherd leads us will always be better than what we can accomplish alone.
- Where are you afraid of your Jesus’ rule in your heart or life? In what ways does the idea of submitting to His rule make you uncomfortable?
- Herod recognized Jesus as a threat to his reign, what powers or authorities today are threatened by Jesus’ radical mission?
- How can Jesus’ victory over evil and death impact the way you live your life today? Over the next 10 years?
King Jesus, Prince of peace, mighty God, will you grant me today lasting peace through Your presence? A peace that overcomes fear or death, for in You is true rest and true life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Evan Muro is a native Virginian who moved down to Charlotte with his wife, Christina and three children to be involved in the work God was doing through Forest Hill. He is passionate about Scripture, enjoys music, fantasy football, and beginner’s woodworking when he can find the time.