The Christmas Story Challenges Our Prejudices Part 2

Rodger Woodworth

I wrote in my last post that Matthew’s gospel account of Jesus’ birth uses a literary device of contrasting characters – the faith seeking Magi in contrast to the faith rejecting Herod.  Matthew challenges our prejudice against pagan outsiders by using their idols to draw the Magi to the Christ child but he also challenges our prejudices that favor political power.

Even though he was Arab by birth , Herod had converted to Judaism and thus considered himself the King of the Jews.  But whereas the pagan outsiders act like God’s people, seeking and worshipping, the King of God’s people acts like the pagan King of Egypt, rebelling and killing. (Exodus 1:16).  When the Magi inquired about the location of the new born King, Herod began to realize that if Jesus was the new born King, then he was the dethroned king.  Even as he instructs the wise men to go to Bethlehem in search of the child, Herod can’t bring himself to call Jesus the King.  The Magi thought differently however and after encountering King Jesus they resist Herod’s bidding to return, going home another way.

Author and professor Craig Keener writes, “When we side with the political powerful to seek human help against common foes, we could actually find ourselves fighting God’s agenda.”  Jesus came to serve the most vulnerable amongst us while depending solely on His heavenly Father.  When “Bethlehem” was read in his hearing, Herod was given the opportunity to seek the new born King in His most embryonic form but he not only rejected it he sought to murder it. As we face the great challenges of our day, both personally and as a nation, which King will we look to for our help?  This season of the year is a good time to renew our decision to go to Bethlehem,  worship the new born King and go home a different way.

2 Responses to “The Christmas Story Challenges Our Prejudices Part 2”

  • Jim Says:

    Thank you! One small correction. Herod was a Jewish king. His family converted to Judiasm for political purposes though they originally Iduemites–from Edom (Esau’s lineage). I love the movie, “The Nativity.” It has a scene where Herod brings a huge bull to give to the priests to sacrifice in the Temple. Herod bought influence and power with Rome and with the Jewish leaders. The scene is contrasted with Jesus’ humble beginnings. The later Herod remember was chastised by John the Baptist for the “unlawful” behavior of marrying his brother’s wife. He was obligated under the covenant to follow the law and John was pointing that out.

  • Rodger Woodworth Says:

    Thanks Jim – I should have been more precise. I wanted my point to be that Herod was ethnically not a Jew – he was actually an Arab. He believed he was King of the Jews because he had converted for political reasons.

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