Stargazing Worshippers

If there is anything that shakes kings and empires, it is the thought of someone or something undermining and possibly even replacing it. In Matthew 2 we continue to see the amazing phenomenon that was Jesus’ birth, but we also see the first attempt by the establish ment to snuff it out.

The story begins quite sur pris ingly. Wise men from the east have come to see Jesus. They know this because they saw his star in the east; they now have come to wor ship this king.1 It took wise men from the east to come wor ship Jesus and offer him gifts.

Matthew 2:16-18
Herod and Jesus
While some have come to wor ship this new king named Jesus, Herod the cur rent rul ing king is per plexed by this new devel op ment. This man many called Herod the Great has an inter est ing his tory. He was a ruth less leader will ing even to kill his own fam ily yet ini ti ated the most ambi tious build ing plans in Judea dur ing the time of Roman rule. He was a pup pet of the Roman Empire but also tried his best to remain pop u lar amongst the Jew ish con stituency.2 The best way to describe the man was that he had an enor mous ego and was ready to do the unthink able to main tain his reign.

Upon hear ing of this new ‘king of the Jews’, who was of the line of Abra ham and David, Herod deter mines he can not allow him to live. The bru tal ity of what Herod does to the city of Beth le hem3 is shock ing and entirely deplorable; but it also reveals to us the pain and suf fer ing of the com mon peo ple under such a reign. Herod unleashes on an entire city a geno cide of the young boys. It seems that mak ing this king angry could unleash ter ror.4 While one king unleashed ter ror upon his cit i zens, another king was saved by a dream.

Matthew 2:13-15,19-23
The Sojourning Son
Joseph, by divine insight, had taken his fam ily to Egypt, where they remained until the death of Herod. Remem ber now that the Israelites were sojourn ers in Egypt for over 400 years, and that God sent Moses to bring them to the Promised Land.5 God is want ing his Son Jesus to walk a path of incar na tion, and in so doing he takes on the sor row and strug gle of his peo ple.6

In Christ’s expe ri ence we see the heart of God. In Jesus, God does not respond to evil and sin with retal i a tion or vengeance. Rather there is a sub mis sion and hid den ness in Christ that is entirely new and dif­fer ent. We see the work ings of a new king dom afoot. This refugee fam ily did even tu ally make it back to Judea, and through another dream, Joseph was able to even tu ally set tle in Nazareth.7 So here is Jesus not liv ing in the cen ters of power or influ ence of his day, but fully incar nat ing him self into the Jew ish reality.

He under stands, even at a young age, the story of his peo ple. His fam ily left home because the king has a kill-order on him; he has been a refugee in Egypt; and finally he moves to the blue-collar north ern city of Nazareth in Galilee. Jesus is prob a bly tak ing all of this in as both God and now human. The King of kings is liv ing like a ser vant, weav ing him self into the fab ric of the Jew ish experience.

1. If there is any doubt in your mind that God is in the midst of all Creation, and that he speaks to us through various means, let this story adjust your thinking. Creation itself was responding to the Incarnation of Christ. ↩
2. You can read more about Herod the Great at ↩
3. Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus’ ancestor David. ↩
4. Imagine the pain and suffering of so many families in Bethlehem. I wonder what God thought of the ruthlessness of this egotistical maniacal ruler? I wonder if as he grew up, Jesus heard this horrific story of terror that was unleashed because his birth? ↩
5. Hosea prophesies this in Hosea 11:1 ↩
6. You would have to wonder if Joseph and Mary taught Jesus about the experiences of his Jewish people during their time in Egypt. ↩
7. It is foretold that Jesus would be a Nazarene in Jeremiah 31:15 ↩

Ashish Joy