Advent Day 21: Ulterior Motives



Scripture records the conversation between Herod and the Magi, not revealing at that moment what Herod’s goal actually was.  For the early hearer of this narrative, especially hearing for the first time, this would have cast Herod in a positive light or created some suspense.  We, however, know very well that Herod’s intentions were ultimately to kill young Jesus.  Doing so would have eliminated any threat to Herod’s power or throne.
I find it interesting, here, that God even allowed for this to happen.  Certainly, the star could have led the Magi in a different direction.  At the very least, the Magi, in Jerusalem, could have sought out religious leaders rather than the tyrannical and homicidal King Herod.
God, however, does not stop or inhibit the interaction between Herod and the Magi.  Herod is now aware of the existence of Jesus and the place in which He was born.  Perhaps we can be thankful, though, that Herod only sent the Magi rather than going with them.  Tomorrow, we will also read that God does eventually intervene, sending the Magi home by another route, thus thwarting Herod’s sinister plans.
The question that Scripture raises here, even if it is peripheral to the narrative, is why God would allow for this in the first place.  It seems like allowing for these interactions to take place jeopardizes the young and seemingly helpless life of His Son.
We journey through life experiencing similar questions.  Addressing the question of evil in the world when we worship and all-powerful God is certainly beyond the ability of this single reflection.  It is enough to say, however, that evil’s reality in the world, and its impact on our lives is undeniable.
If we are to read this narrative and note the question of evil’s presence, we also must recognize the reality of God’s providence.  Why God allows for the Magi to talk to Herod is somewhat of a mystery.  Later we will see that Jesus’ family must go to Egypt to fulfill prophecy.  At the moment, though, it seems somewhat dangerous and counter-productive.  Yet God IS still at work here, and out of this comes yet another fulfillment of God’s promises.
Sometimes it is hard to see in the difficult moments of our lives, but God is always at work.  What He is doing can be hard to see and articulate.  Usually, it is after the fact that we get a clearer picture.  In fact, in our lives, looking back on God’s faithfulness in the past can help us to trust Him in the future.


Faithful God,
You are the great Provider and Sustainer of all things.
Jesus points out that, just as You provide food for animals and adornment for flowers,
and that for us You always give us all that we need.
We are blessed far beyond what we could ask or imagine.
Thank You for your faithfulness in our lives through good times and bad.
Help us, as we experience trials, to remember your steadfast presence in the past.
May it give us assurance of your continued provision and work in our lives,
both for the present struggles and for those to come.
You hold us in the palm of Your hand and never let us go.
We thank You for this, Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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