I’m at the age now when it seems like everyone is having kids. My wife and I are not quite there yet, but I’ve noticed from a distance the change a new child brings. I’ve heard stories about wives going into labor while husbands are out of town for work. The husband rushes back to town as fast as he can, ironically risking his life to be there to see new life begin. Couples spend hours in the hospital and amounts of money I can’t begin to comprehend. I’ve heard stories of parents practically living in hospitals for weeks so they can be with their new child who was born with health complications.
When I ask my friends about their lives post having a baby, the most honest answers always include words like “different”, “change”, and “surreal.” One friend told me, “The first night I woke up to crying 15 minutes after falling asleep I knew my life would never be the same.”
The thought is crazy to me. To think that my life, which not long ago was driven by my own goals and dreams for the future, will one day be transformed and reoriented to the future of a newer, more fragile life. A child can change everything.
At the time Jesus was born, Herod ruled Judea and held the title, “King of the Jews.” So it is a curious thing when the wise men mentioned in Matthew’s second chapter come to Herod asking him where they can find the “king of the Jews” (Matt 2:2). Upon hearing this, Herod, whom Matthew refers to as “Herod the king,” is understandably concerned, and all his constituency with him. To investigate the meaning of this offensive inquiry Herod the king assembles the experts and asks them where the Christ, whom the Jews had long awaited, was to be born. When they reply, “Bethlehem,” (not Herod’s hometown) Herod’s concerns grow. At this point Matthew no longer refers to him as “the king.” Now he is simply “Herod.” Anyone who has read the Gospels knows that Herod’s life would never be the same.
Looking to eliminate his new competition, he cunningly sends the wise men on a phony mission to find the boy and report back with his whereabouts so Herod could also “come and worship him.” But when they find Jesus they bow in sincere worship. They know who the real King is. When they realize that Herod has bad intentions they decide not to report back to him, revealing where their allegiance lies. But don’t think that was an easy decision. Herod certainly had the power to track down the wise men and have them punished for their insubordination. A child doesn’t pose the same threat. But they knew that Jesus was the true King, so they pledged their allegiance to Him and not to Herod. Things were going to be different now. There was a new King in Judea.
Oh how Christmas can be a reminder of the change in a Christian’s life! Anyone who has been transformed by the grace of God in Christ can testify that life is not the same as it was. I used to think that I was the king of my own life. My wants, my goals, and my dreams took first priority. But, like Herod, I was never the true king. Now, the true King rules. Like entering into this world on the first Christmas, Jesus has come into my life and I have to choose daily to whom I will pledge my allegiance, to myself or the true King.
In a season that has been hijacked by commercialism, narcissism, and unwarranted persecution paranoia, let us remember who its all about (Hint: not us). Everything has changed, and it was changed by the Child born King. We no longer belong to ourselves (as if we ever did or as if Judea ever really belonged to Herod). Our lives and our allegiance belong to Jesus.
Let this Christmas be a chance to realign your life. Let it be a time to reorient your desires, goals, and dreams to fit the true King’s.
Lord, You have changed everything. Let us bow down in allegiance to You and no one else.