DAY 10: Herod
Read: Matthew 2:1-18
Every good story has an element of danger or tragedy and the ‘greatest story ever told’, is no different. History will remember Herod the Great as a tyrant whose fine building projects across Israel were overshadowed by his ruthless pursuit of power and position.
Herod was a puppet king; a way of keeping the Jewish people under control. Any power or authority that he had was granted to him by the Roman Emperor. At any time, Caesar could take the crown from him and this uncertainty led Herod to become a paranoid wreck, obsessively eliminating any potential rival to his rule. This even included several members of his own family.
So, when strangers arrived from the east with news of a King who would be greater than any other ruler of Israel, past or present, Herod’s paranoia was taken to new and grotesquely cruel heights. The slaughter of the Bethlehem children illustrates the lengths to which evil people will go to, to protect their own interests.
Yet, if we are being completely honest with ourselves, we must admit that there is a little bit of Herod in all of us. We worry about our reputation. Some people achieve an element of responsibility, especially in business or the workplace, and are often anxious about being undermined by their colleagues or the threat of competition for that much-sought-after promotion. So many human friendships, even in a Christian environment, are tinged with secrets and suspicion.
But this is not what God intended for anyone’s life. He wants us to value our relationship with Him above any title we may hold or possession we may have earned. Christmas is a wonderful reminder that Jesus never sought power or prestige during His earthly life. He was born in a lowly, cattle shed, in a manger for his bed! He would go on to face the shame of the cross. But He never wanted to be ‘King of the Jews’ whom the wise men pursued or the Roman soldiers mocked. He wanted to be King of our hearts and today, if we lay aside our ambitions and reputations, He will give us a contentment and a freedom from anxiety which our hearts truly seek.
Philippians 4:6-7 ESV
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
By Jonny Watt