Saturday Jan. 4
Scripture: Matthew 2:13-18
For obvious reasons, we usually stop reading the story of the wise men with verse twelve of the second chapter of Matthew.
The wise men go home by another road. Herod is left waiting by the phone for a call that never comes. All is well. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
But the night that is coming is not good. It is dark, one of the darkest parts of the New Testament. At some point Herod realizes that the wise men aren’t coming back to Jerusalem. His fear does what fear very often does. It turns violent.
In this horrible act, this slaughter of the innocents, Herod shows that he is an imposter. He is a fake king. Any ruler who has to kill in order to keep his power never really had true power to begin with. Like the bully whose behavior reveals his weakness and insecurity, Herod is exposed.
In Exodus 1-2 we read about Pharaoh, who is afraid that his kingdom will be taken away by the Israelites, so he orders the extermination of all male children born to Hebrew mothers.
In Matthew 2 we find another paranoid king who is so drunk with power that he has no compassion, not even for vulnerable children.
One of the lessons of Exodus is that God, not Pharaoh is the real Lord. And finally Pharaoh is defeated.
The story that Matthew is telling us, awful though it is, teaches us the same thing. Jesus is king, and Herod is not. Remember how Matthew ends. Go ahead and flip to Matthew 28:18 where King Jesus has been raised from the dead. On that mountain the One who has defeated death says, victoriously, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
Prayer: Though we live in a world where bullies and brutal rulers still oppress, O God, we trust that you are truly Lord and that they are not. It is hard to see sometimes, so give us faith to live for you. Amen.