Readings for Epiphany of the Lord
Peace be with you!
Imagine not knowing the Christmas story and having it unfold in front of you. A baby is born and is the Messiah—the Savior of the Jews. How would you react to the news?
King Herod is jealous of what he is hearing about this baby, Jesus. King Herod calls upon the 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 2:6c NRSV).
King Herod is jealous because this baby is going to threaten his kingship. King Herod is thinking Jesus is going to grow up and overtake his kingdom through military might. Herod is right that Jesus is the King; Jesus will reclaim the people for God the Father. However, Herod is also wrong, because Jesus’s kingdom is not of this world. King Herod does not understand the importance of a spiritual kingdom and fears the worst.
Jealousy causes King Herod to ask the wise men to go see this baby Jesus and to report back to him. King Herod seeks to kill Jesus out of fear of his conquest over Herod. However, God outsmarts him by giving the wise men a dream and telling them not to report back to King Herod. And God sends an angel to Joseph to tell him to escape to Egypt (Matthew 2:12-17).
The wise men stand in stark contrast to King Herod. Instead of being threatened by Jesus, they bring him 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 a 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. Jesus will become a king in whole different sense—a king who saves us from our sinful natures. 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 like King Herod afraid of the next person who may steal your glory? Are you one of the wise men who are looking for God’s love, peace, and grace? Would you take Jesus gifts suitable for a king? Are you like Mary, mesmerized by the events? Are you like Joseph, ready to take action? Everyone has a role in the story. What is your role?
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending Jesus Christ into the world. Help us to be amazed by your presence. Remind us to be mindful of our roles in your story. Quiet our minds, so we can hear and answer your call. Thank you for surprising us with your grace. Amen.
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 behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- When in your life have you been like King Herod, threatened by Jesus’s kingship?
- When in your life have experienced the surrender and awe of the Wise Men, who bowed down before Jesus?
- What will you do this week to honor Jesus as King?
Image found at http://www.examiner.com/article/dealing-with-the-five-causes-of-professional-jealousy