After they were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Get up! Take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to kill him.” (Matthew 2:13 CSB)
Herod was a maniac. No question. He felt threatened by anyone who might take his throne. He wanted all the glory for himself.
In one sense, very few people are as evil as Herod. But in another sense, everyone is. To borrow from Cold Play, we’ve all got poison in our blood.
Like Herod, we want to be king. We hate someone telling us what to do. We hate someone taking our glory away, and we’re willing to tear others down to build ourselves up.
- When a teenage girl insults her parents because she can’t get her way.
- When a boy makes fun of someone around the girl he likes.
- When a college student cheats to make an A.
- When a husband lies to his wife.
- When an employer takes credit for every good idea.
Relatively minor sins… yet, Herod-esque. There’s a little Herod in all of us.
The world is generally designed for Herod-like behavior. If you want to be great, if you want power, wealth, and prestige, don’t let anything stand in your way. Power up. Exert yourself.
So when it comes to Jesus, many are threatened.
- How dare someone claim to be God and demand my worship.
- How dare someone take away my freedom and require my obedience.
- How dare someone interfere with my heart’s plans and desires.
And yet, Jesus doesn’t budge. He’s the King, not an elected official. He demands and deserves all glory, honor, and power.
But the Kingdom Jesus brings is radically different from the kingdoms we know. In Jesus’ Kingdom, the way up is down. The path to greatness is not through strength, but weakness. The King is born in a manger, destined for a cross.
The only true cure for a heart like Herod’s… the only way to battle our selfishness, our ego, our pride… the only way to truly love and serve others without selfish motives… is to see the glory of Christ in his lowliness.
In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Who among us will celebrate Christmas correctly? Whoever finally lays down all power, all honor, all reputation, all vanity, all arrogance, all individualism beside the manger; whoever remains lowly and lets God alone be high; whoever looks at the child in the manger and sees the glory of God precisely in his lowliness.”
Herod couldn’t do that. Can we?