Which brings me to the final thing I noticed as I began to study this passage. There is a contrast between the kingdom of Herod and the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of Jesus. There are two kings in this passage…with different claims to authority, different agendas, striving for different kinds of influence.
The Hebrew people expect a military leader that will help them overthrow the world’s powers by force. They get a deliverer who is a suffering servant that delivers the world through entering its suffering in Bethlehem and taking the world’s sin upon himself at the cross on Calvary.
Herod is the kind of king that attempts to overcome his enemies through violence and force. Jesus delivers the world through love and compassion.
Herod is now dead. His palace is in ruins. His kingdom has long faded away. And if it had not been for his relationship to Jesus, nobody would have remembered him.
Jesus is risen from the dead and reigns at the right hand of God. His kingdom continues to grow. People today still worship him, and await the fullness of his deliverance.
Loyalists of the kingdom of Herod inherit the fate of Herod.
Followers of Jesus have an eternal inheritance to look forward to. And they begin to help bring it about even now as they join Jesus’ revolution of justice, love, and compassion—even for our enemies. In being delivered, we get to become a heralds of the good news of our continuing and impending deliverance to others.
Herod rules by staying above the fray and collecting more and more money and political control through fear and moral compromise.
Jesus enters into the sin and suffering of this world, befriending the moral compromisers he hopes to lead, in order to deliver them to a life of hope and complete transformation.
The picture we have of the church, the one full of perfect people who have things all figured out and have everything in their lives all together, that church does not exist and it never has. That is not the kind of church that we see in the Bible. The church we see in the Bible is a church full sinful people who have made total messes of their lives who discover a community that is about proclaiming a deliverer and embodying the love of a King who seeks to deliver us.
The people of God that Jesus comes to deliver are sinners all. Sinners who fall on their knees and cry out for deliverance to the one who is coming out of Egypt to rescue them from their pain and heartache, their oppression and affliction. Even more than they cry out to be delivered from their self-righteous, self-justifying selves and march into a kingdom of humility and love.
May God find me in that number. May God find you in that number, May God find us in that number together. Amen.