Herod died shortly after the Holy Family fled to Egypt. We’re not sure precisely how long after, just that his death coincided with a collision of stars in the sky. Which means there were two significant lights in the nativity sky: one to herald the birth of Christ, and one to herald the death of Herod.
Herod knew he wasn’t loved and would not be mourned. He wanted to ensure the Jewish people would grieve his passing, so he ordered that one hundred of the most respected Jewish elders be put to death at the moment he breathed his last. That way, even if the people weren’t mourning for him, they would at least be mourning at the right time. Fortunately, Herod’s orders weren’t carried out. From the moment he died, his influence waned and his legacy of terror began to wane.
It’s ironic, and sad, that Herod thought he was in control right up until the moment he died. He died thinking his will mattered, thinking his legacy mattered, and thinking that he would bend the world to his whims. He died under a cloud of deception. The world didn’t rely on Herod for direction any more than you or me. As soon as he was gone, the world moved on for the better.
I wonder if any of us share Herod’s blindness. Have we convinced ourselves we’re in control? Have we bought into the lie that we actually control what others will do in our absence? What will it take for us to realize that you can only force people to behave the way you want while you’re there to actually force them? How long will it take before we realize that we have no real power over others?
The only change you can guarantee is the change you make to yourself.
The only changes that last are those energized by the Spirit of God.
The only change that matters is that which re-orients your life away from yourself and, instead, re-centers it on God.
You might think more highly of yourself, now, than you should. But, like Herod, there will come a time when all your self-deceptions are exposed. Better to have that happen now while you can still make changes.
Dr. David McDonald is the teaching pastor at Westwinds Community Church in Jackson, MI. The church, widely considered among the most innovative in America, has been featured on CNN.com and in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Time Magazine. David weaves deep theological truths with sharp social analysis and peculiar observations on pop culture. He lives in Jackson with his wife, Carmel, and their two kids. Follow him on twitter (@fossores) or online at fossores.com