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Posts Tagged ‘Herod the Great’

Rech St.Luzia Fenster742

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There is a shepherd in Matthew’s Christmas story, and it is easy to read right over him.  Here is a Christmas sermon that points him out.

Our Shepherd Is Born
A Sermon on Matthew 2:6, Matthew 9:35-36, and Luke 2, with allusions to Isaiah 40 and Ezekiel 34.

If the people are sheep and the leaders are shepherds, then the world Jesus was born into was struggling under the rule of two very bad shepherds.   The propaganda of the day declared that Caesar Augustus is son of God, lord and savior and bringer of peace on earth.  You can still see this message etched in stone in Roman ruins.  What Rome called “peace” could be more accurately called “forced order.”  Maybe it was a kind of peace, but what it means for the people was relentless oppressive taxation.  It meant the threat of torture and death.  Crucified bodies lined the roads—the message being: this will happen to you if you don’t cooperate.  The Empire jerked all its subject peoples around.  That’s what’s happening when Joseph hitches up his donkey, lifts a very pregnant Mary up on it, and leads it the hundred miles or so from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register.  Roman orders.

King Herod was a henchman to the Romans.  Rome ceded some local authority to him, and he guarded it jealously.  History books list him as Herod the Great because he was a most impressive builder.  Under Herod the majestic temple in Jerusalem that Jesus visited was built.   Its remnants are still visible.  The Wailing Wall is left from Herod’s temple.  But Herod was also a butcher.  He assassinated members of his own family that might pose any challenge to him.  It was nothing to him to order the slaughter of Bethlehem’s little boys.  It was all in the name of security.  His.

Bad shepherds were nothing new.  Through the centuries people longed for a good shepherd, one who would feed the flock, not eat the flock.  One who could carry the flock, not exploit the flock.  One who would gently lead, not jerk people around.  One who would strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the injured, bring back the strayed, seek the lost, feed the hungry. (more…)

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