Heading into the holiday season, I've begun rereading the Gospel of Matthew. The interplay between faith and law, even in the Christmas story, foreshadows some of the struggles Christ-followers through the ages face when interacting with government. In chapter two, this verse has been of particular interest to me:
"When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him."Herod is troubled. . .threatened. He consults the chief priests and scribes about this child who is born "King of the Jews." Just what do the Scriptures say? he wonders. Maybe it is the wise men's words, "We have come to worship him" that set him searching the Jewish scriptures in earnest, perhaps for the first time.
Although Herod may have been a practicing Jew, his parents were both Arabs. His subjects eyed him with suspicion because of his allegiance (however strained) with Rome. A potential fulfillment of Messianic prophesy could not sit well with him. Matthew says,
"he demanded of them where Christ should be born" (v. 4b).From Bethlehem, the scribes explain, will come
"a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel" (v. 6b).These words are followed, in Micah's prophesy, by the words, "whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (5:2b). Not just a governor, a rival ruler for Judea, but an eternal King.
Christians today live in the realm of men and women in authority who, like Herod, are "troubled," threatened by their interactions with us. Our testimonies blaze forth like living prophesies of the eternal Messiah, even when we say nothing. Live your faith simply and honestly, and you cause many people around you to wonder, "What would cause her to choose this stance?" Or maybe even, "What do the Scriptures say?"