Below is an excerpt from my recent book, RINO List 2014, which you can now get exclusively at Amazon.com for only $.99. I wrote this piece as it observes the intersection of faith and political ambition. Please take time to read and I pray that it blesses you as we all celebrate this Advent season.
A Christmas Meditation on Matthew 2.1-12
On a tranquil evening in the court of Herod, a group of Persian seers entered. From their astronomy and long studied, spiritual knowledge, they had calculated the position and meaning of a astronomical anomaly. They posited it as a sign of the entrance of the promised Jewish Messiah who would bring peace to the Earth and be installed as the King of the Jews. The group of seers had entered into Palestine in order to find this Messiah and to give him the homage due him.
The reporting of this news brought desperate panic to the palace tranquillity. Herod the Great never shied away from bloodletting, and his paranoia about possible rivals overthrowing him or worse, assassinating him, knew few bounds. If a possible usurper was alive that would mean no one in Herod’s vicinity was safe.
Herod entreated the men to discuss these issues of state. Once their expedition’s goals were known, he sent for Jewish sages, scribes, and leaders to inquire about the veracity of the seers’ claims. At this pivotal moment in Jewish history, the Israelite elite made a conspiratorial move. They agreed with the predictions of the seers, however they stayed in Herod’s court and firmly in his pocket. At the moment where they could throw off the rule of Rome, they could have celebrated the fulfillment of the centuries old prophecy. Instead, temporal, petty, personal interests led the Jewish leadership to side with Herod’s plot to kill their own, promised Messiah.
As the Christmas story goes, the Arab wisemen came to the Child, worshipped him through gifts and praises, were warned of Herod’s conspiracy by a Heavenly Angel, and retreated to their country by another way. The misleading Herod grew angry at wisemen for betraying his order, and rushed out a contingent of troops to eradicate this possible rival. It took another Angelic Messenger to fully overcome the conspiracy, and thus the Messiah was saved from an early demise in the killing of the other innocent Jewish babies. Herod the Great came to an end not long after, and thus the Roman Jewish conspiracy against the Messiah ended. The rise of Jesus’ status brought a new conspiracy to put him to death at the hands of the Roman governor Pilate urged on in the deed by the Jewish ruling elite.
This is one facet of the Christmas story often overlooked, but it is a crucial point to today’s culture. Politics, money, corruption, personal advancement, and avarice motivated both the attempted murder at his birth and the successful murder of Jesus Christ in his adulthood. Often, the message of Christmas entails an innkeeper, a young couple, and a few shepherds. Listeners easily put themselves in the sandals of these people during the Christmas event. Rarely do people identify with either Herod or the Jewish religious elite. People want to think that they would be at worse just ambivalent like the innkeeper or the others staying in Bethlehem. No one places themselves as looking at the bare facts of what is going on in front of them, and then turning into the antagonists of the Messiah. Often, we allow our career goals to come before our responsibility to share what the Messiah has done for the world to others who do not know. Often, we allow office politics, local politics, and church politics to come before our responsibility to obey the commands in Scripture to love God and love others. Often, the corrupt deals we have made in the past come before our responsibility to be holy before God in thought and deed. Often, our pursuit for money and comfort comes before our responsibility to follow God in His service. Often, we are just like the conspirators whose eyes were open to the events before them, and they choose to take care of themselves instead of embracing the Kingdom of Christ.
Christmas has taken on a sickening, consumer bent that robs each of us from the time to meditate on the significance of the Christ. Meditation is not something of Eastern mystics; it is simply concentrated thought on an object or idea. During this Christmas season, take time to read through the Gospel narratives about Christ’s Advent, considering all the different elements. See the historical information, see the Jewish perspective, see the political focus, see the theological dimension, and finally consider the clear meaning of Christ’s coming. After that, consider your faith in Jesus Christ, His work, His death, His resurrection, and His offer of eternal life.
May God bless you all, may you all have a merry Christmas, and have a Happy New Year!
Lewis Beeler Jr.