Herod the Great excelled at grand designs. He built monuments to himself and to stroke the ego of the Emperor. He ordered the construction of palaces in Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Herodian. He built a small city atop Masada, equipped with store houses for a small town, a theatre for entertainment, and a palace where he could look out over the desert region. He built the world’s first artificial harbour as he secured and expanded trade routes in the Mediterranean. He made settlements at Sepphoris and later at Tiberius. He sought wealth, power, and strength through taxes of the poor and the acquiescence of the rich.
Jesus Christ came to this world in the womb of a virgin. No human, but the “yes” of a young woman, played a part in his coming. He came quietly, simply, and in the still of night when Jerusalem and the rich were asleep. He came with human frailty and divine strength to walk alongside the broken, cast down, and cast out of society.
Two kings and two kingdoms. One showed its strength outwardly; one inwardly. One built edifices to tell the world of their power; one softened hearts of stone into those of flesh. One kingdom will crumble and one will grow.
The second king told a story of a banquet where the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind are invited. The rich have a Christmas table to sit at; the poor need an invitation. Jesus sits at this table. Will you join him this Christmas?
Image: Stained glass crown, Saint Mary Catholic Church, Dayton, Ohio, Wikimedia Commons.
The Rev. Dr. Sarah Harris lectures in New Testament studies at Carey Baptist College and Graduate School, Auckland. She was a Scholar at Vaughan Park in 2009.