Last week we departed from our place in Matthew to speak on Easter, and now we find ourselves in Matthew 2.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea when Herod was King in the land; however, Herod wasn’t born king. He was not of the blood line of the Kings of Israel. He came to power because of his political alignment with the Romans, and he was only half Jewish to add to the problem. The writer of Matthew links this to the genealogy of Jesus who was of the blood line of King David in the first chapter. He was to be born king, and Herod didn’t like this at all. It challenged his status quo and he was not in favor of that one bit.
After Jesus was born, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem seeking him. Their words are contained in 2:2: “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Herod heard this and called the religious leaders to ask where the Christ was to be born. They answer in Bethlehem of Judea and Matthew quotes Micah 5:2 as being fulfilled here. We can see this spin Herod up a bit more, and he begins an evil plan to remain securely seated on his throne as king. Imagine with me, if you will, that you are Herod. You have played the political game and seemingly have won. You have worked your skills in communication and rhetoric and have played your cards well. You have landed in a nice spot, are pretty happy and now all of this is in jeopardy. Why would Herod call the chief priests and the scribes asking where this Child was to be born? Was there, in Herod’s mind, legitimacy here? It seems to be a funny arrangement. If he didn’t believe Old Testament Scriptures would predict the coming of this king there would be no need to summon the priests. He would just kill the baby and squash any possibility of political rebellion. However, if there was divine validity to them, he would be in jeopardy by the Word of God itself. How can one crush their own rebellion against God? This is quite a conundrum. The Bible teaches and I believe that Jesus was born the Christ. Perhaps Herod’s conversation with the scribes went a way that he hadn’t planned. In any case, Herod had a choice. He had to fall in line with the Scripture or go against the Scripture. He chose to go against it.
Herod told the wise men to complete their journey and come back to him telling where the new King of the Jews is. They find Jesus, by way of the star, but are warned in a dream not to tell Herod. They then leave for home another way. Herod is probably a bit upset now. His throne is in jeopardy, his orders to these wise men weren’t followed, so he decides to take matters into his own hands and kill all the male babies two years old and younger in Bethlehem and the region. Joseph learns in a dream that Herod is ordering this and leaves with Jesus and Mary to Egypt.
Time passes and Herod’s plot is foiled to kill Jesus. He dies and his son Archelaus was set up as the new ruler. Joseph decides to come back home, but goes to Galilee instead because of his fear of Herod’s son.
When we think of the beginning of Jesus’ life we are sometimes taken into the Christmas story. The wise men come and bring gifts and worship Him. We think of a little baby being born and laid in a manger, and the glory of angelic singing. While these are good things to remember, we must also remember that Jesus’ life began with adversity. The same men who brought gifts to Jesus were instructed by Herod to help in a plot to kill him. They chose wisely. This young Jesus had death threats placed upon him very early in his life and Mary and Joseph fled to preserve His life. Joseph wouldn’t even go back home because of the possibility of Herod’s son wanting to finish what his father started. When I think about this, I think about adversity in our own lives, and how minimal it can be. I also think about this adversity being politically motivated by Herod, in the light of our politically motivated adversity today.
Scripture does not teach that we are immune to adversity as Christians. It simply shows that adversity comes to all to include Jesus Christ as a child. As people who believe in standing up in defense of the innocent this should speak strongly to us all. It is in this adversity that we live. We breathe the air of adversity, and it lives where we go.
We have seen political adversity fall strongly on the men and women of law enforcement in the past few years. I wanted to give a word of encouragement here for all to take to heart. Political adversity is just politics, and nothing more. It does not change what we believe to be true and right here in this world. It does not change why we entered this occupation. In the words of the 1778 Continental Congress we read: “We appeal to that God who searches the hearts of men, for the rectitude of our intentions; and, in His holy presence, we declare, that we are not moved by any light and hasty suggestion of anger and revenge, so through every possible change of fortune we will adhere to this our determination.” I encourage you all, in the face of political adversity, to remember why you started this job and to adhere to this our determination in doing it.
Don’t miss a weekly post! Sign up under the American Flag at the top right of this site or below on the mobile version to receive weekly written studies written to my brothers and sisters in arms by your brother in arms. The privacy of your email address is important to us and it will never be disseminated. Next, find some people who will hold you accountable for The Program and learn more about the God who created you, loves you and what He says about people who do what we do!
Matthew 2:3 – “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”