DayBreaks for 12/23/11 – What Herod’s Know In Their Soul
Every year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, there is displayed, beneath the great Christmas tree, a beautiful eighteenth century Neapolitan nativity scene. In many ways it is a very familiar scene. The usual characters are all there: shepherds roused from sleep by the voices of angels; the exotic wise men from the East seeking, as Auden once put it, “how to be human now”; Joseph; Mary; the babe — all are there, each figure an artistic marvel of wood, clay, and paint. There is, however, something surprising about this scene, something unexpected here, easily missed by the causal observer. What is strange here is that the stable, and the shepherds, and the cradle are set, not in the expected small town of Bethlehem, but among the ruins of mighty Roman columns. The fragile manger is surrounded by broken and decaying columns. The artists knew the meaning of this event: The gospel, the birth of God’s new age, was also the death of the old world.
Herods know in their souls what we perhaps have passed over too lightly: God’s presence in the world means finally the end of their own power. They seek not to preserve the birth of God’s new age, but to crush it. For Herod, the gospel is news too bad to be endured, for Mary, Joseph, and all the other characters it is news too good to miss. – Adapted from Thomas G. Long, Something Is About To Happen
I don’t know about you, but I’m not just skeptical, but a bit fearful of politicians and power-brokers who talk about the “new world” that they are vowing to bring to us. I’m hugely skeptical. To me, it sounds like someone trying to convince me that I will like the things they want to do, so sit down, open your mouth, and take your medicine!
Sometimes, however, the old must pass away so a better new can come. Herod knew it – and he knew it meant the end of him and his despotic rule. There was a new King coming to town and Herod wanted nothing to do with it, or with Him. So he tried to introduce his own new world – one of killed babies and crying mothers, a voice of weeping and wailing.
In the midst of all that, there was another baby wailing. He would have sounded to human ears like any other human infant who was hungry or dirty or who simply wanted to be held. But to God it was a voice unlike any other, for a new world, a new age, had dawned with the birth of the little one in the stable.
Maybe this year you’ve held off on giving all you are to Jesus. Maybe you’ve held back because you were skeptical of his claims to give you life and life more abundant. Maybe you simply thought it all sounded too good to be true. Maybe you’re wrong about all those things…and you may be like Herod, trying to squash the Baby Jesus before he can make any demands of you. Herod lost. Herod was wrong. This year, don’t be wrong about your decision of what to do with Jesus. Decide now that He will be as welcome in your heart as he is in the courts of heaven above. Welcome the baby Jesus and the grown Christ, risen in glory!
Merry CHRISTmas, everyone!
PRAYER: Be born in us anew this day and may our hearts be glad to welcome you in! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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