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When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, as were all the people in Jerusalem. Matthew 2:3 (NCV)

Not everyone was happy when the news came of a newborn baby and the rumors of the Messiah being born. Tradition teaches us that Jesus was most likely an inquisitive little two-year-old by the time the Magi appeared in Jerusalem.

No doubt the goings on in Bethlehem had reached the streets of Jerusalem by then, but the stories were most likely, largely unsubstantiated. A few shepherds coming into town to tell of the miraculous birth would carry little clout. They were, after all, shepherds. Besides, most likely the new family had returned home to some little, insignificant town…Nazareth. After all, it was common knowledge that a king would be born anyplace other than Bethlehem, and a Nazarite? Not a chance.

But just about the time that the rumors had completely died, a caravan arrived in town looking for the new king of Israel and they caused quite a commotion.

King Herod had no right to the throne he inhabited. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He got to his position of power through violence, rage and deception. He ruled with an iron fist. If you followed Herod, you were safe. But no one dared cross him.

There were others worried about the rumors as well. The priests and others who were content in their tradition were nervous about making any waves with Herod. He allowed them to practice their religion as long as it didn’t interfere with his program. Tradition does that. It brings us to a place of complacency.

Complacency. Contentment. Religious tradition. All the things that kept Jerusalem quiet. But the Messiah was never about coming to bring complacency, he was about coming to expose the injustice of power and free those under its grasp.

No wonder then that all Jerusalem was in an uproar over the news of a new king. They didn’t want their way of life disturbed; their tradition tampered with; their religion shown to be full of hypocrisy and allegiance to a God-less King. They were unwilling to take a stand and uninterested in God changing them. They were more worried about the earthly King than they were excited about Messiah, God with us.

Not much has changed since the Magi came to Jerusalem that day. People are still content to worship their own way; still content to live safe lives steeped in tradition without making waves. Staying obscure is staying safe.

But that little two-year old the Magi visited doesn’t call us to complacency. He doesn’t call us to be safe. He calls us to a new life built on relationships, not rules. Our Father doesn’t work in ways the world expects, he works in ways that bring dramatic, life-long change.

PRAYER: Holy Father, I thank you today for the babe in the manger. The Magi remind us all that we should never be complacent in looking for you. They remind us that you work in ways we don’t expect. Empower us to be watchful for your working. Amen.


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December 2012
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