When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
In a previous job, on my very first day at work, my new boss made it clear to me that she did not like me. She commented that she did not like people who had been educated in private schools, and since I went through the independent sector, there could be no doubt that she resented me for my educational background. She proceeded to try and make me life as uncomfortable as she possibly could. As a consequence, the dislike that she felt for me became mutual.
Sometimes people can provoke strong reactions like that, and sometimes for what amount to very trivial reasons. Jesus is also a person who has attracted strong reactions for the last two thousand years. People love and worship him, but people also hate and despise him for what he represents, usually because he poses a challenge to their lives or their understanding of the world. Herod clearly felt greatly threatened, since he ordered the murder of all baby boys in order to eradicate the one that the wise men had called a “king.” He knew that he was the king, and anyone who dared to challenge his position would be dealt with most severely. Herod feared that if Jesus was allowed to grow up, he might attempt to overthrown him, and bring his rule to an end.
There is a little bit of Herod in most of us. We all like to be in control of our own lives – to be the king of queen of our own existence. We like to make decisions for ourselves, and do things our own way. When someone poses a threat to us, we start to panic and fear what might happen if they become more powerful than us. If anyone challenges our view of the world, or the way we live our lives, then we try to disregard them. After all, we know best.
Apart from we don’t really. We only understand the here and now. God, however, has an eternal perspective, and knows what will be in our best long term interests. If only we were less selfish, and surrendered control of our lives, ambitions and plans to God, then things would be a lot better – for us, our families, for God’s people, and probably even society as a whole.