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Friday, December 25, 2009

Are We Christians, or Herodians?

Read: Matthew 2

Jesus was born in the sleepy little town of Bethlehem, located almost in the shadow of the Herodium, the magnificent fortress/palace constructed by King Herod the Great. The contrast between Herod’s luxurious palace and the humble stable of Jesus couldn’t be any more dramatic.

When Herod heard that a new “king of the Jews” was to be born, he was terrified of losing his power and wealth (if not his life). He was willing to take any measures to eliminate this contender to his throne:

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Matthew 2:16

It didn’t work, because God took Joseph, Mary and Jesus to safety in Egypt. And the slaughter of all those little Jewish boys was so senseless, so unnecessary. Herod didn’t realize that this Jesus would grow up to say, “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” and “My Kingdom is not of this world.” Jesus came not to claim political or military power, or to promote insurrection against the governing authorities, but to bring people to God and reign in their hearts. Herod could never have understood this; to him, the only kind of rule that mattered was physical rule with all its trappings.

Do you live like a follower of Christ, or of Herod? Sometimes we who claim the name of Jesus seem so focused on implementing our legal and public policy goals that it’s not clear which kingdom we are serving. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t work for god-honoring laws and support political candidates with good values – but since the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, our first priority must always be to share the Good News of the Gospel with a world full of people who desperately need to hear it. Everything else is secondary.

At this Christmas season, may we keep our focus on the filthy stable, not the magnificent palace, and proclaim the internal, life-changing Kingdom of Jesus above all else.

~ Prof. Brad Jacob, Regent University School of Law

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