“All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through the prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means, “God is with us.” Matthew 1:22-23, NLT
“Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea during the reign of King Herod…” Matthew 2:1a, NLT
3rd Sunday- (4th in Advent) “The Child!”
The contrast between God’s plan and human endeavor is always stunning to observe. This could not be more evident than the coming of the Messiah, during the reign of a king whose grip on his domain seemed irrevocable. Jesus a defenseless baby, was born among cattle in a livestock stall. Herod was enthroned in a palace with many servants and attendants, along the northwestern wall in the upper city of Jerusalem. The stable the child was born in was carved out of rock. The palace King Herod occupied was the second largest building in Jerusalem. In addition, Herod owned so many other palace-fortresses throughout Judea, that he was acclaimed for his massive building programs. This earned him the title, Herod the Great. But this is only part of the story. He was a controlling person, who attacked anyone who disagreed with him, and he murdered two of his wives. It is not uncommon for God’s work to be accomplished alongside of the disruptive forces of human failure. We note that 700 years before Christ’s birth, the prophet Isaiah said that God would come “among us” through the child of a virgin. The name of the baby, Immanuel, would confirm the Lord’s presence. Yes, God does come in the midst of turbulent and difficult times. Herod died in gruesome pain from a rare infection and kidney disease. He is a footnote in history. Jesus grew up; he taught, preached Good News, healed, and defeated death! Jesus lives and reigns, and through Him we live and have our being. It is Jesus the Christ, Immanuel, whom we celebrate. He is our only hope, joy and peace!