Summary: How the voice of God causes humble people to defeat the powerful enemies of the faith.
The Unconquered Baby
Rev. Sean Lester
December 14, 2003
A. There is cause for concern for those who follow the way of Jesus Christ because of the seemingly hostile turn our world has taken toward our faith. It has been reported that nativity scenes are disappearing from public places where such symbols have traditionally been displayed, such as courthouse lawns and city squares. Isn’t it proper to keep government from promoting religion? Of course, but government should never prevent society from expressing its faith, even if it means using the properties that belong to society and its institutions. Government and Society are not the same. The government and all of its institutions belong to the people, and if a community wants to display the symbols of its values on its property, what makes that immoral or oppressive?
Even in our own military, soldiers are not allowed to receive Bibles or symbols of the Christian faith that might offend the local population where they are stationed. Is the army to use force to spread Christianity? Of course not! But if the army of our nation calls upon Jesus Christ, is it right to deprive them of the practice of their faith, the faith that allowed them to volunteer to put their lives at risk? If our soldiers are dying to liberate Iraq, is it right to allow Iraqi prejudices to be master of our soldiers souls? Again, it has been reported that Christian military chaplains are restrained from speaking about Jesus Christ in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the Islamic chaplains have free reign to preach their faith to the imprisoned enemy.
By now you may have heard that Wisconsin state law prohibits the use of God’s name in Christmas carols being sung by students in the public schools. Can you imagine the dilemma this is causing? First, it would seem that they would have to substitute the first syllable of Christmas to say, perhaps "Bob-mas." However, the second syllable also causes problems because "mass" refers to worship. So, now they have to substitute that word for something more secular, like "fest." So, I can imagine that in the public schools in Wisconsin they will be celebrating "Bob-Fest" during this time of the year.
You have to understand that the powers over society are opposed to the faith of Christ. Human kind wants freedom to do as each person pleases, even if that means freedom to practice immorality. Today’s mantra seems to be "If it pleases you and doesn’t hurt anyone else, do it."
But the faith of Jesus Christ restrains people from doing what they please. Believers preach righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus Christ, and by so doing they bring conviction into the society. Believers who preach Jesus open people eyes to the truth about the world and its destructive practices. Believers who preach righteousness cause people to hate sin and oppose those who promote it. Where people believe on Jesus, the powers that promote human pleasure are restrained. And they hate to be restrained.
This is nothing new. In fact, the hatred for Jesus Christ began in the world the moment that the Messiah was born. The moment the puppet king of Israel heard that a new king may have been born, Herod tried to have the baby killed.
B. A heavenly metaphor took place when the magi gazed into the night sky. Magi are astrologers of sorts. They study the stars in order to discover order in life. They study the night sky and they chart the movements of the stars and the planets. A star might disappear and you or I would never miss it among the thousands of stars that hang over the darkness of night. But to someone who looks to the stars for order, they would notice. One night, they noticed star that was peculiar, perhaps out of place. They studies their charts to find out what it meant. To them, the star was saying that a king was being born over the nation directly under it. Only the Magi would have noticed the star and thought to look for meaning in it.
But while the Magi searched the stars for a blessing, Herod was constantly searching among the people he ruled for trouble. His hold on power is guaranteed only by the whims of the Emperor. If any unrest flares up among the Jewish people, he is done. The worst thing that could happen to him is a rumor of a Messiah being born. The people would look to such a person for boldness to revolt. If it didn’t end his career, it certainly would be the end of the throne for his own son. So, when our passage said Herod was troubled, that is why.
Herod’s best move was to find the one who may be regarded as the Christ and have him killed. And it would appear that Herod has the ability to do it. He knows where the Messiah is to be born because the Bible identified the town. The baby is guarded only by a teenage girl and her husband. They are hardly a match for well-armed soldiers.