Leadership Series – Herod the Great – Paranoid Ruler

Read St. Matthew 2:1-18

In Star Wars, Episode 3, Anikan meets with Chancellor Palpetine and discusses the location of General Grevious, and then the idea of power.  As he continues to manipulate Anikan, the Chancellor informs him that even the Jedi are afraid of losing their power and are making their moves in an effort to protect their power, not necessarily prosper the Republic.

It is true that the lust for power has influenced the plans of leaders since the very beginning of time.  Once one achieves power, at any level, they immediately begin to worry about how they can protect their power, and then expand their power, even to the detriment of those who they exercise their power over.

So it is with Herod the Great.  Herod has a history of killing people that he assumes are a threat to his power: he kills his brother, and numerous children and wives, not to mention his own citizens, all in an effort to maintain his own power.

So when the Wise Men come and announce their intentions, Herod is immediately concerned about his own power.  This is the hi-point of ridiculous: the newborn that the Wise Men seek is a toddler.  Even the chief priests and scribes whose council Herod seeks can determine this from the information that they have.

But there is more at work here: the prophecy that the scribes and chief priests report is a prophecy of the coming Messiah.  This is the Savior of the nations who has been born, and Herod is terrified by Him, and plots to destroy Him.  It will be in his efforts to destroy the Christ child that Herod is willing to kill the one who has come to save the people from their sins.  The salvation of humanity is at stake here, and Herod is willing to sacrifice that in order to protect his power.

That is what power does: the greater needs of others are sacrificed in an effort to keep the power concentrated in the one who now holds it.  If Herod is willing to sacrifice the one who was born to save the people from their sins, how much more willing would he be to sacrifice the citizens to a foreign kingdom, or future prosperity in favor of a current boost in power?  Herod is willing to sacrifice everything, even the innocent citizens of his own kingdom, in an effort to keep the power to himself.

But Herod’s worst fears are about to come true.  Herod is taking drastic steps to keep his power, but he has already lost it.  There is a new king in town, who will not be swayed by those around Him.

It is the newborn King Jesus who has come to save His people from their sins.  And this Jesus has not come to sacrifice His citizens to protect His power; instead He has come to offer Himself as the ultimate sacrifice to save His people.  That is what leadership looks like: not sacrificing others, or placing power above all else, rather it is sacrificing one’s own self so that others may benefit.

That is what Jesus does: He lays aside His power so that you may live.  Jesus lays aside His crown, so that you might pick up your crown of eternal life.  Jesus goes to the cross, so that you do not have to.  Jesus is not concerned with losing His power, His power is secure forever; and so now He can focus all of His energy and efforts not on protecting His power, but on ensuring that you inherit the benefits of His power.

About revschmidt

An LCMS Pastor in North-Central Kansas
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