Sunday, January 8, 2023

No Longer at Ease

Epiphany Devotional: 

By Ben Davison, Lake Fellow

As memories of Christmas fade into the background, the story of our faith continues on. The story of God’s deliverance hurtles forward in the person of Jesus Christ, but Matthew sobers us with the reminder that all of this takes place “in the time of King Herod.” The arrival of the cosmic king means that people are searching, but not all are searching with the same intent. In the time of King Herod, the powers and principalities of our world are aware that a new king means that their days are numbered. When encountered with the child who will bring peace to the world, the only option is to bow down or destroy the child. As expected, Herod has no intention of abdicating his throne to this so-called king of the Jews. The hunt is on.

Meanwhile, wise men from the east also seek out this child not with the purpose of destruction, but with the intention of worship. Perhaps it is shocking that these mysterious, gentile men from the east are some of the first to worship Jesus, but faithful students of God’s story would have understood this as God’s continued fulfillment of his promise to Abraham that “all nations would be blessed through him.” God’s deliverance comes through the chosen nation of Israel, but this choosing was always for the purpose of invitation so that the watching world would come to know of God’s love for them.

Finally, we are reminded that Herod, and every other power that succeeds him, will not thwart God. It may be “the time of King Herod,” but this does not hinder God’s freedom and power to accomplish his will in the world. Christians remain vigilant knowing that evil has real power to devastate and destroy, but we serve a God who breaks in through dreams and any other means he chooses to make another way. In fact, in God’s economy, places like Egypt which served as markers of bondage and slavery are turned into places of liberation and refuge. Pharaoh harshly ruled over God’s people in Egypt over a thousand years before Joseph would arrive there, but God swept Israel up in his story of redemption and miraculously delivered them to a new land. Pharaoh was here, and now he is gone. All that opposes God will not last. The same was true of Herod and will be true of all who seek to oppose the living Christ who is alive and active in our world today.

Today we stand as participants in God’s mysterious, salvific work and are called to be the heralds and harbingers of the good news. Like the Magi, we seek the promised child who will usher us fully into the time of our Lord, where no other power will ever have claim on that time again.