King Versus King
By: Jennifer Tomasik posted 6-28-14 (written in 2011 for Manna Org. magazine)
A large vein is bulging on his forehead. It runs fiercely down his face into his neck. His jaw is clenched, it seems as though he cannot catch his breath. He is a man gripped by fear. His brow fills with sweat. His nostrils cannot rightly provide enough oxygen to his racing heart. His bursting chest and shoulders carry the rhythm of his heart. Although he tries he cannot disguise his anxiety.
Clinging, white knuckled, to his own position of power. He cannot let go of it. His palms are drenched with sweat as his hands protect his kingly robe and ring. He cannot live without the distinction they bring.
His eyes do not shed a tear as they suffer. They stare far away but never find a focus, revealing his inner torture. His underlings know that his tortured soul is their burden, and so they also tremble around him. He has just been unexpectedly approached by, unknown men, concerning an unprecedented event and he is without an answer.
This is a man at his breaking point. His life is at a standstill until this matter is remedied. And he will stop at nothing to answer this seeming threat to his power. When I look at this man I feel his frailty and his weakness. His fear reveals his weakness. He has no future outside of this power. His thirst for control will never be quenched.
You know this man, he is Herod the Great. He has just been visited by the Magi, wise men from the East. (Mt. 2:2)He was greatly disturbed by their news. His uncontrolled fear turned into anger and his anger turned into murder. At this point the bible records for us an unimaginable tragedy. Herod orders for the slaughter of the innocents. (MT. 2:16)The order for murder is not uncommon in the reign of Herod the Great. He famously murdered members of his own family. Such as his wives, sons, grandfathers and more were murdered. The great Jewish historian, Josephus records of those in his family who he had murdered, “Their only offence was that they were very popular” (Jos., “Ant.”, XV, vi, 1, iii, 3). With this insight into his nearly forty four year tyrannical reign we can be fairly certain that this became a pattern for King Herod. Whenever he felt threatened or in fear of someone he ordered for their death.
This is the political environment that our King of Kings was born. It amazes me to think about what great risk God endured at the time of His incarnation. Although this tyrannical egotistical murderous political figure would soon be dead, his sons and grandsons will go on to rule in his place. His son Herod Antipas is responsible for the death of John the Baptist. (Mt 14) Jesus is interrogated by Herod Antipas at the end of his life (Lk. 23:7). Herod Agrippa I, killed James and imprisoned Peter (Acts 12), Paul testified before Herod Agrippa II. All these men are sons and grandsons of Herod the great.
No one understands the cruel dangers of a man who is in fear of losing power like Jesus does. Jesus, from the first day of his life to His last, was a target for attack from power hungry men. A man like Herod was too afraid of losing control that he could not receive the message of Christmas. The message of “glad tidings of great joy” was of no effect on him. (Lk 2:10) He only saw what he would possibly be losing instead of what he could gain.
However, when we look back at what Jesus did for us, we find his attitude was that he was willing to lay down his crown in order to gain us. Philippians 2:5-8; “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” This is what Christmas is all about. It is when God took off His royal robes of divinity and put on fragile flesh of humanity.
Furthermore, if we take the time to compare these two kings, King Herod and King Jesus we see great differences. King Herod gripped by fear clings to his royal position. King Jesus who is motivated by love willingly lays down his kingly position and becomes a servant. King Herod is filled with rage and orders the murder of the innocence. King Jesus, the prince of peace lays down his own life as a ransom for all. King Herod raises sons and grandsons to rule in his place. They continue his tyranny, and persecute the apostles of the church. King Jesus rose up disciples, sons and daughters to ring the bell of freedom from death hell and the grave. King Herod will be remembered throughout history for his cruelty. King Jesus will be worshipped for eternity because of his compassion.
I recently had the privilege of attending a Christian women’s conference. There was a minster there name Craig Groshel. He spoke on the subject of fear. One statement that he made impacted my thinking. He said, “What you fear the most is where you trust God the least. And what you fear losing reveals what you value most.”If I am completely honest with myself I can admit that I have been at times afraid of losing control of my life. Not to the extreme of King Herod of course not, but something similar to that. I can see where in a small way I also do not want to let Jesus take His rightful place as Lord. When I am convicted of sin, I can make a choice to say, “Yes Lord, I obey, or no Lord I want it my way.” But because I have made Jesus the Lord of my life, He has all authority over me. And because of His great grace I always find the strength to bow my knee to my King one more time. The question we must ask ourselves is, am I afraid let God be in control or am I still holding onto it. Let us commit ourselves to God, holding nothing back. Releasing all our fears to him and giving him full control in our lives. This Christmas invite Jesus to take His rightful place as KING!