Peace be with you!
Remember the first time you heard about God the Father or Jesus Christ? The feeling of being free of this world for the first time is incredible because you no longer have to beat yourself up for [whatever “it” is] you did and regret. The feeling of the weight of the world being lifted off your shoulders allows you to take your first breath in a long time.
The faith journey is different for each individual. Some people receive God’s love and grace upon hearing the good news, while others request proof of God’s existence, even with his miracles all around them. Even with individuals who believe in God, their faith can be challenged by life-changing events, such as cancer, a car accident, bad decisions, a loss of a child, and the list goes on. As Christians, we dedicate our lives to walking through life with God by our sides. But sometimes it difficult to figure out where God is leading us– or at least that is what we tell ourselves when we refuse to answer his call for us. We deny we were given the gifts required for [whatever “it” is] God is calling us to do. My denial sometimes is that God has given me an unique voice as individual with Cerebral Palsy who has faith in the Triune God. I do not see anything unique in what I have to say. I am just doing to my part to spread the good news, which has not changed in two thousand years. But some people have told me that the way I speak the Good News is particularly powerful to them, because of my personal story. I still think my seminary professors and mentors have a more eloquent way to say the same things. I struggle with jealousy of their scholarly achievements. I worry that I will never get to their level.
In today’s gospel reading, King Herod is jealous of what he is hearing about this baby Jesus. King Herod calls upon chief priests and scribes to tell him where he can find this Messiah (Matthew 2:4). The chief priests and scribes tell King Herod the Messiah was prophesied to be born in Bethlehem of Judea (Matthew 2:5). But they do not stop there ; they tell King Herod what he does not want to hear: “…for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel” (Matthew 2:8c, translation?).
This creates jealousy in King Herod’s heart, because a baby named Jesus is going to threaten his kingship. King Herod is thinking the baby Jesus is going to grow up and get a great army together. He fears that Jesus is going to take over his kingdom. In a way, Herod is certainly right, for this is what Jesus does by reclaiming people for God the Father. But Herod is also wrong in a way, for Jesus later comes to tell us that his kingdom is not of this world. However, King Herod does not understand the importance of a spiritual kingdom. He feels threatened and fears the worst.
Jealousy causes King Herod to call upon the wise men to go see this baby Jesus and to report back to him. We know from Matthew 2:13-17 King Herod will seek to kill the baby Jesus out of fear of his conquest over Herod. However, God outsmarts him by making the wise men have a dream and telling them to not to report back to King Herod. And God sends an angel to Joseph, telling him to escape to Egypt.
The wise men stand in stark contrast to King Herod. Instead of being threatened by him, they bring Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh – gifts of a king (Matthew 2:11). The wise men honor Jesus as they would the king of a country; they find or renew their faith in the Lord. Though the mystery of the Kingship of Jesus could not be fully understood by the wise men, they recognize his Lordship to the best of their ability. Though they do not yet understand it, Jesus will become a king in whole different sense, a king who saves us from our sinful nature. Even with their limited understanding, the wise men find themselves looking at life in a whole new way.
Take a moment to ask yourself where you fit into the story. Are you King Herod afraid of the next person who may steal your glory? Are you one of the wise men who are looking God’s love, peace, and grace?
Come, O Lord, Come.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending Jesus Christ into the world. Help us to be amazed by your presence. Thank you for surprising us with your grace. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. Where do find God? How are you reminded of God’s presence?
2. Where are you in your faith journey?
3. When in your life have you been like King Herod, threatened by Jesus’ Kingship?
4. When in your life have experienced the surrender and awe of the Wise Men, who bowed down before Jesus?
5. What will you do this week to honor Jesus as King?