Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Christmas Gift - Part Five - Herod: Jealous of the Gift

Jealousy is often referred to as a Green Monster. That’s what it turns us into if we let it take control. In the movie Spiderman, a wealthy scientist became intent on murder, when his jealousy of Spiderman’s power took over.

Despite the wonder of this time of year, jealousy threatens to take away our joy as well.  Every commercial is aimed at our greedy hearts and desire to have as much (if not more) than the next guy. The joy of Christmas morning is spoiled by brothers and sisters arguing over presents, or complaining about what they received in comparison to their friends.’
Jealousy has left a trail of blood in monarchies throughout history, as kings and queens murdered their own family members in order to secure the throne. Here are some details of what happened to King Herod because of his jealousy:

“Many historians think that Herod's downfall began with his possessive love for his wife Mariamme...He demanded that Mariamme be killed if he [didn't] return [from an expedition] alive, unable to bear the thought of another man with her.

Later, Herod became convinced by his sister that Mariamme was scheming against him. He had her put on trial and executed. Despite being responsible for her death, Herod's torment was intolerable. He saw visions of Mariamme. Perhaps in a futile attempt to replace his love for Mariamme, Herod became polygamous. The story of Herod became more tragic still when, for fear of being usurped, he executed three of his sons.

Herod's life was one of ruthless political expediency...”   (

Interestingly enough, King Herod wasn’t even Jewish. He was an Edomite – a brother tribe that had warred against the Jews ever since Jacob and Esau fought in their mother’s womb. Herod was appointed to the throne by Mark Antony as a favor, and his allegiance was to Rome, not the Jewish people. From his actions, we can see even Rome’s concerns took second place to his own.

Then enter the Magi, carrying the wonderful news that a new King has been born and they’re on their way to welcome Him. Herod went into a panic. He was already insecure and grasping. He was also ignorant of scripture:

“He had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written:

“But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel”’ (Matthew 2:4-6).

Pretending enthusiasm, Herod said, “Let me know when you find this King so I can worship Him too.” But when God warned them in a dream to go home another way Herod’s jealousy grew into murderous rage. To ensure the death of his rival, Herod sent soldiers to kill every child in Bethlehem two years old and younger.

I must confess I sometimes struggle with Jesus' right to rule in my own life. Not only in the daily decisions of life when I want to do things my way instead of His, but even on His birthday. When Christmas falls on a Sunday, as it does this year, I war with a selfish desire to skip church so we can relax and enjoy the day with family.

How sad is that? It’s His birthday and I want to celebrate it by staying home to have my own party. I am jealous of the one hour it takes to go worship, because it interrupts my agenda for the day. I am fighting over the throne that is rightfully His.

I have had to ask for forgiveness to get a grip on what the Day is really all about. He understands our human frailties and graciously forgave me. And now that I’ve worked through it, Sunday can be a day of joy and praise for the Birthday Boy, the true Gift of Christmas.

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