Matthew 2:1-3 1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was DISTURBED, and all Jerusalem with him.
We live in a time when the mention of Jesus and the practice of following Him still causes a disturbance, doesn’t it? Jesus, the Prince of Peace, still causes many unrest. When many hear that Jesus is infiltrating hearts or that believers are appropriately taking a stand for Christ or that they are sincerely committed and on the move for Jesus there are people struggle with and resist interfacing with Jesus. They don’t want to talk about Him. They don’t want to answer questions about what they think of Jesus. Many don’t even want to hear His name mentioned at all. Hence the move to “Happy Holidays” in order to avoid saying, “Merry Christmas.” Peace is one of the main themes of the Advent and Christmas season. It is something we promote as Christians. It is ultimately what Jesus delivers, so why the unrest? Why is King Herod AND ALL OF JERUSALEM disturbed by the appearance of King Jesus?
Herod was a ruthless king who even executed several of his family members when he suspected they were plotting against him. He was never shy about using his power to make sure no one got in his way. Even though he was ruthless, Herod had made tremendous improvements to the city of Jerusalem. Under his watch, there were palaces and an amphitheater built. During his reign the Temple of Solomon was even rebuilt. There were monuments and bridges constructed. He had helped put Jerusalem on the map. Jerusalem was thriving.
And our text tells us that when it was learned that Jesus, the Messiah was born, Herod was “disturbed” and so was the whole town of Jerusalem. Look at verse 2 again: The Magi asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
Herod’s thinking, “The King of the Jews? That is me. I am the King of the Jews.” He might have also been thinking, “And I ain’t never had a star. This guy has His own star? Why have they come to worship a so-called King they have never even met?” Who knows what all ran through his mind. Was Jesus coming to dethrone him? Jesus was a full Jew. Would he have more influence with the people? What would it mean for Herod that Jesus was on the scene?
And why was all of Jerusalem disturbed? Apart from the fact that you didn’t want to tick King Herod off, things were going well in Jerusalem. It was a prospering city. Could it be that the people had shifted their anticipation of a Heavenly Messiah for an acceptance of the physical changes a man could make? Were folks so enamored with the “progress” they could see that they couldn’t consider anything else? Had their faith moved from waiting on God to welcoming what man could do?
We know Herod was really disturbed because he ordered that the Hebrew baby boys 2 and under to be killed in Matthew 2:16-18. He wasn’t taking any chances. No one was going to dethrone him. We know how God protected Jesus and told Joseph, his earthly father, to flee with Mary and Jesus to Egypt until Herod was off the scene.
What conclusions can we draw from these happenings?
Regarding Herod-Jesus is still troubling to people who want power and control.
Regarding the people of Jerusalem-Jesus is still troubling to people who want status quo living.
I guess it is all about perspective. It is all about the ability to see who Jesus the Messiah is. The Bible tells us that the “God of this Age has blinded the minds of unbelievers” II Cor. 4:4. They are blinded by things like power, control, and personal prosperity. The idea of a new King of the Jews, a different King of the Jews posed a threat to all of that. Listen, when you are anchored to the world’s system and ways and have put your passion and heart and energy into participating in the things of the world, it can be hard to think about a different system, another way, even when it is a better way. Does that resonate with anyone here this morning? Some people want their way even though a better way exists.
Well, the Magi from the East probably traveled around 800-900 miles to see Jesus. They had seen a pretty impressive star that drew them to Bethlehem. Isn’t that interesting? The birth of Jesus disturbed Herod and all of Jerusalem yet it drew the Wise men to make about a month-long, maybe longer, trip for the sole purpose of worshiping Jesus.
Recognizing that the “King of the Jews” who had been born had some kind of religious clout or authority, Herod called together, verse 4, all of the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “‘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.'” Here the religious leaders were quoting the Prophet Micah in chapter 5:2.
The long-awaited King had come. Bethlehem had been named the place. A star was part of the equation. Everything lined up to point to the fact that Jesus was the Messiah. Isn’t it interesting that when this information was made known to the Jewish religious leaders, the information about Magi from the east following a star to worship someone they referred to as the King of the Jews, the religious leaders weren’t even interested in seeing for themselves what was going on? They weren’t drawn to see like the Magi were.
To those who don’t have eyes to see what Jesus is really about, I’m sure His presence is quite disturbing for Matthew went on to detail in chapter 5 that Jesus came preaching a different kind of message about a different way of life, one that would disturb people who wanted to do life their own way.
You see, there is a way the world prescribes that might have certain outcomes for a certain time period, but it is temporal and leaves collateral damage and regret along the way. But there is a way that Jesus prescribes that adds meaning and value to your life and to the lives of others around you that causes no sorrow, leaves no regret and has an eternal benefit. Herod couldn’t see it. The people of Jerusalem couldn’t see it. “Can you see it or does Jesus disturb you?”
When you live with the fullness Jesus brings into your life you aren’t seduced by worldly lusts, and there are many. You are instead satiated with a deep sense of purpose, a sense of spiritual well-being and health, a passion that gives you a reason to get up every day, a heart of gratitude that overflows because of what Christ does for you. When you see Jesus in His fullness you welcome His work in your life, you embrace His Lordship in your life, and you realize you gain infinitely more than you could ever give up!