Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. (Isaiah 61:1).
Herod reclined on his throne. Maybe it was like any other day for a Roman tyrant. His hold on Jerusalem and the Jewish people as strong as it every had been. Then, from the east, men arrive in Jerusalem looking for the one who was “…born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him,” (Matthew 2:2). There’s no mention of how many men came looking for Jesus. Given Herod’s response, I tend to think it was quite an entourage! Or, if they were few in number, they must have been a pretty impressive that day.
Whatever their number, Herod was none too pleased — tyrants are pretty stingy with their power. Matthew says that news of this “king of the Jews” caused acute emotional distress for Herod. Except, our English translations say that he was “greatly troubled” (or something like that) which doesn’t quite capture the storm of emotions and rage that Herod felt. He was livid. Hiding all of that emotion, he calmly says, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him,” (2:8).
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy,” (Matthew 2:10). Educated, respected, wealthy, and influential, these men “fell down and worshipped him… they offered him gifts,” (2:11). The appearance of Jesus, for magi and for every single man since then, brings us to our knees or evokes rage and rebellion. When the Light shines and the “glory of the Lord” rises on the earth, there’s no middle ground!
Welcome to Epiphany, a season of bright lights and liberation for all the earth!
“The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer,” (Psalm 6:9).