When Herod realized he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious . . . .
Herod was in control and his control was real. He held life-and-death power over the people in his kingdom. He was willing to manipulate, deceive and kill to achieve his agenda, and when frustrated by the Magi he brought devastation to the families in Bethlehem.
The coming of an infant-King and his Kingdom was a matter of record. “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever” [Is 9:7]. The Magi’s news of a natal star meant the rivalry had begun, so Herod postured and connived. But, Herod had it right. The birth of this Messiah-baby was going to change his life forever . . . and he was spitting mad.
The motivation for such an exertion of control may well have been a misguided “good of the kingdom” or, more likely, “the good of Herod”. But motivation gone sour may mean that “fear” is the core motivator. Fear of loss of property or loss of position, security or station.
Centuries later, we continue to wrestle with the implications of the Christ child’s birth and his reign and rule over the Kingdom he established including our daily, hourly lives. We need to pay attention to our own frustration and anger, our own desire for control, and our exposed fear of failed illusions of security.
The truth: the Messiah came because of our finitude. Hopeless and lost in our desperate need of a Savior, the baby came. We can’t save ourselves; we can’t clean ourselves up. No matter how desperately we try, we return again and again to being “prone to wander” from “the One we love”. Without Christ, we cannot approach the throne of grace to receive mercy. The Messiah whose coming frustrated the powerful Herod is our only hope for experiencing sweet fellowship with the Father and abundant life that Christ came to provide here and now and eternally to come. Our citizenship in Christ’s eternal kingdom is won through the infant-King.
In our finitude, Christ’s infinite love expands to encompass our fears and to rescue us, doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. And although modern-day Herod’s continue to rage and devastate, we may surrender to the greater King who has no rivals and to his Kingdom that will never end.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus.