Scripture Reading — Luke 2:1-3; Matthew 2:1-18
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree
Luke 2:1 —
“In those days” Caesar Augustus had a lot to think about: a military campaign on the empire’s frontier; keeping the trade routes on the Mediterranean Sea safe from pirates; road building; and counting up all the taxpayers so he could collect taxes. A baby born in the back roads of Bethlehem didn’t matter any more to Caesar than the color of the mud on his servants’ sandals.
But king Herod of Jerusalem thought a lot about that baby! Matthew 2 tells us that wise men from the east came looking for a newborn “king of the Jews.” That wasn’t good news for an obsessive man who couldn’t imagine anyone but himself holding that title (not even his sons, three of whom he had murdered). So Herod thought hard about the baby—and, specifically, how to get rid of him! Herod finally resorted to executing all the little boys of Bethlehem to make sure there would be no threat to his royalty.
Meanwhile, “the One enthroned in heaven laughs” (see Psalm 2:4). Oh, God weeps over the deaths of innocent babies in Bethlehem, but he laughs at Herod’s pathetic schemes. Getting around Herod is child’s play for God. And Caesar’s grand plans are nothing compared to the Lord’s. God is building a kingdom against which no other empire can stand, and it all begins with a baby born in Bethlehem.
Lord, you even made use of Caesar and Herod! Thank you for making use of leaders and nations; they are like clay in your hands. Use us too in your salvation plan. Amen.