We are going to try something a little different here. I would like you to read this chapter putting yourself in the place of the different characters. You will probably have to read it several times, once for each person maybe. Ask God to show you how you can be like that character in your own life. I know I can be like each of them. I’ll leave my comments in a couple days. I don’t want to get in the way of the Holy Spirit moving each of you. I wish we could all get in the same room and do this exercise. It can be amazing. Try to think of times in your life when you have been like each of these characters.
3King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem.4He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the aMessiah supposed to be born?”5“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:6‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
7Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared.8Then 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!”9After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.10When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!11They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.12When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.
14That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother,15and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”16Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance.17Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:18“A cry was heard in Ramah—
21So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother.22But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee.23So the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what the prophets had said: “He will be called a Nazarene.” Beginner’s Online Bible Study *obbs*
This is a quote from a book called: Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman – a journey of struggle and hope… i read this and found it interesting and something to think about…. “Most of the time at Christmas we end the story there…in the stable with Mary and Joseph, and Jesus receiving their company. Wise men, shephards, and angels… What about the rest of it? Mary mothering the Son of God! She was human, she had a baby, and she raised that baby with the heaviness that she was to see Him suffer and thus she too would suffer. I think when Mary was hiding things in her heart, it was a lot more than the reality of who she carried. I am certain that she was hiding away the memories of first smiles and steps, as well as the first tears and tumbles. Knowing what was to come, did Mary have the opportunity to live differently as a mom to her little boy? I beleive she did. I am sure that she watched him differently, and prayed differently. I can only imagine the discussions that she and Joseph would have when their son wasn’t listening, how they probably begged God to let the cup pass from them, but in the end yielding up the prayer we all hesitate to pray when it comes to our children….Your will be done. It doesn’t end at the nativity in Bethlehem in a cozy manger…it is a journey all the way to the cross on the hill on Good Friday.”
I can’t really separate Mary and Joseph in this. Perhaps that is fitting since they are married, they are one. They know they are in care of this incredible child. I doubt the understand much more than that. All of the sudden people show up with some VERY expensive gifts. They are probably very excited and amazed, and the next minute they are getting up in the middle of the night, leaving everything they can’t carry behind, and fleeing for their lives!
Suddenly they are a poor family being pursued by a ruthless king with a great Roman battalion at his command. What chance in the world do they have? In this world, no chance at all, but with God they are kept safe.
Such is the rollercoaster of life. When my life goes from the top of the hill to a plunging race into the unknown, how do I react? Can I leave my worldly possessions behind to go to the unknown if that is what God tells me to do? Did God make Joseph and Mary so poor so they would have less to lose when they had to do that? What awful disaster would have struck had they not obeyed? How often have I not obeyed and had disaster strike?
Lord, help me to detest my worlding posessions in comparison to my desire to do your will. Help me to live in simple faith that leads me to radical action if you call my name. Lord, helpp me to know that Your protection is stronger than any army that is coming against me.
The role of the wise men speaks so loudly to me. God had shown them something, a star which they interpreted as the birth of a king. They willing decided to follow God’s lead and go give gifts to this king. Traveling at that time was a big deal. It was difficult and dangerous, but they did it.
They think they are going to see a king, so they go to the palace. All of the sudden their little trip creates a huge uproar. Then they leave there, God leads them just a little further, and they find their king is a dirt-poor child of a carpenter.
Is that so like our life with God or what? We struggle to follow God on a journey or with some task. It is difficult, but we dutifully follow looking for a great reward. And even though we are following God’s lead, we cause trouble and uproar. The reward we thought we were traveling to turns out to not be correct at all. The entire thing looks like a waste of time.
But then if we leave the palace and the “important” and “popular” people behind and go a little further we find something completely unexpected. It isn’t much in the world’s eyes at all, but it is not just a “king”, but the “King of kings”.
When that happens, can we do like the wise men did? Can we accept what God leads us to? Can we leave our “treasures” behind and give them to God in a place and situation we never expected? Can we change our mind and our plans and “go back by another route”?
My thought on King Herod How many times when I want things to go my way, or my life is not going the way I planned. I sometimes do not care how many people ( like the children of bethlehem ) I hurt by words or actions to get what I want.
This reading strikes me in several ways:
1. Herod was extremely fearful of losing his power. We all have fears of losing a job or losing some sort of status quo. We don’t like to endure change that challenges us to grow! So we resist or become selfish and worry about how this change is going to affect ME, rather than looking for how God’s plans and the change can benefit us.
2. Joseph is once again the gentle, obedient one who immediately does as God tells him. He knows he is not in control and cannot protect Mary and Jesus alone, so he bows to God who is powerful and obeys without question!
3. The poor innocent children of Bethlehem and their parents who must have grieved incessantly!! How does God allow all those precious children to die? And yet, I am sure God holds those precious children in a special place in heaven. How deeply jealous and fearful must Herod have been to order such a thing, but he did not perform the task himself, thus he did not have to face any of the mothers or fathers! It was a cowardly way to deal with his fear, sort of like we de-humanize others to deal with our own inadequacies. He made them less than human, so it was no big deal. We all have a tendency to forget how human others are too, when we say mean things about them or don’t give them consideration because we are fearful of losing our own control or our popularity or our status quo. That is how abortion works as well – they de-humanize that unborn child by calling it “tissue”, so it is easier to kill it and not feel guilty! Words are powerful and the way we name things make a huge difference!!
I’m going to take alittle different thought here ( I have to rush this because I must leave here very soon) King Harod, Was he a bad person or was he following God’s will because others didn’t? Did He beleive in God or did he know that he needed to have a working knowledge of the Jewish religion and beleif system that required him to know the teachings of the day? Would have scripture been fullfilled if Harod did not take the actions he did? Then there is the obvious question of what is the meaning of, or how could the injustice of all those inocent babies be allowed to die? Just think of the pain! If you are Mary and Joseph how do you deal with knowing your bundle of Joy was at least indirectly if not directly the cause of such huge amount of pain? There is so much in this reading for every bad thing there is a good one and for every good one there is a bad. The real question is, What is it that GOD WANTS ME to get and apply to MY LIFE? Gotta Run I’m now late.
The leading priest and teachers were called in to tell Herod and the wise men where the Messiah as to be born. They knew the scripture well enough to know it was in Bethlehem. But there is no record at all of a single religious person going with the wise men or ever going to Bethlehem in search of the Messiah. Why?
How often have I left religion keep me from searching for Jesus? Or maybe I have been religious enough that I felt Jesus should come to me? Was it safer to follow their many Jewish rules and go through their ceremonies than to seek the true fulfillment of those ceremonies? Is it safer for me?
Lord, help me to not take the easy way out. Help me to always seek you. Help me to seek you where you are, with the poor, and the humble, and the unknown. Help me to not be “safe” in seeking You and serving you.
Herod was such a cruel and ruthless man. He was also obviously paranoid about losing his power. He did believe in God, for when he heard about the star from the wise men he instantly thought of the Messiah. He also had some faith in the Bible, because he turned to it to discover where the Messiah would be born.
How am I like Herod? Do I ever use deceit to keep my grip on power? I know I do. Maybe I don’t out-right lie to win a argument, but I my twist or withhold the truth. How often haven’t I struggled to keep control, perhaps of an adult child or a spouse. Control, that is a dangerous thing. Herod and I both want control sometimes.
But I have never gone so far as to kill innocent children – or have I? How many abortions could have I stopped if I had given more time and energy to that purpose? But I was too busy being the king of my house.
Herod was an awful person, but I can be too. Jesus, only you can truly change my heart. Only you can keep me from drowning in the sea of greed and desperation that captured Herod. Only You Jesus.