God sent his Son
Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” Matthew 2:7-8
Jesus was born into a highly charged political situation. As soon as it became clear the King of the Jews had been born, King Herod was deeply alarmed. He was a powerful king and had had, in many ways, a very successful reign. He had been on the throne for nearly forty years and brought a sustained period of peace to the land. He had also been responsible for many building programmes. His building of the second temple was particularly impressive and parts of it can still be seen today. But towards the end of his reign, Herod became increasingly intolerant of any rivals. Incredibly he not only killed his wife and mother-in-law but also three of his sons. It was said that it was safer to be Herod’s pig than his son.
When Herod encouraged the wise men to make a careful search for the baby, it’s not hard to work out what lay behind his words. He wanted to eliminate the baby as quickly as possible to ensure that Jesus didn’t acquire a following and unsettle the kingdom. Herod was no doubt aware that if he had sent his troops to Bethlehem to find Jesus, there might have been attempts to hide the child. A group of foreigners were far more likely to succeed in locating him, and then he could sort things out.
This is a deeply sinister story and shows us, right from Jesus’ birth, how his life was a constant confrontation with the power of evil. Everything in us feels that he should have received a warm and enthusiastic welcome, but it was only because he confronted the awful brokenness of our sinful world that he was able to bring salvation and the gift of new life.
How can this story encourage us as we look at the appalling things happening in the world today?
Loving God, thank you that you were willing to send your Son to this evil world in order to offer us the gift of salvation. Amen