In the time of Jesus’s birth, Herod was the Roman-appointed king over Judea.
Herod had surely heard the legends of the once-great Jewish kingdom of David and Solomon. He undoubtedly knew, somewhere in the back of his mind, of the myth of a great and eternal ruler to be born. But surely, such a rumor was nothing more than the last vestiges of fanciful hope of a subjugated nation.
Other so-called “Messiahs” had sprang up before, and Herod had squashed them easily.
But after the birth of Jesus, something different was happening. A caravan of wise men from far-away lands had arrived to worship this “messiah.” They too had heard the legends of a once-great Jewish kingdom and the prophecies of an eternal king to be born. They had good reason to believe this event had happened.
And they were taking it seriously. Very seriously. So seriously that they brought “treasures” of expensive gifts. They wished to treat this baby as the king he would become—they wanted to get on his good side.
Suddenly, Herod thought he might take this seriously too. Matthew says that when Herod heard the news from the wise men he, “was disturbed.”
Because of the witness of the wise men, Herod was forced into a position to take action. The situation was suddenly grave, disturbing even.
So I have a question: are you ready to take this seriously?
Jesus said to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
When we take our faith seriously, in public, it forces the people around us to take it seriously too, it forces them to take action. Some may respond with mutual worship as the wise men did, others may respond with hostility as Herod did. But they’ll respond.
Let’s live our lives as if we will certainly die, and as if our faith in Jesus is the only thing that matters. Let’s put our peers into a position to decide that we’re either crazy, liars, or holders of the truth.
Let’s put our faith on display, consequences be damned (literally). Let us be colored by the ever-present glory of Christ. And let us cloak all of it in “…such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12)
In a culture filled with lukewarm Christians, universalism, and relativism, may your actions pose this question to everyone around you: something important has happened, are you ready to take this seriously?