There is at least one person in your life you are in a power struggle with. A power struggle is where “One person is trying to change another and the other person is refusing to be changed.” Where a person wants you to be a certain kind of person or do a certain thing but you don’t want to be that kind of person or do what they are demanding. The classic mistake in marriage is that each person enters thinking, often unknowingly, they will change the other person only to discover the other person doesn’t want to change.
I remember one pastor, Paul Tripp, in the US saying how his wife was constantly talking to him about his anger. So one day he bit back and said ‘95% of the women of his church would love to be married to me’. She responded by saying “I must be part of the other 5%”
In one sense the birth of Jesus created the biggest power struggle of all, Herod wanted to kill Jesus and Jesus refuses to be killed.
It's surprising because there is nothing more powerless than a baby. They are powerless, if you don't feed them they don't get fed, if you don't change them they smell, if you don't move them they stay put. Their only weapon is their scream.
All of which makes the reaction of King Herod to the birth of a baby a little surprising. A child is born in Bethlehem and a 70-year-old King is terrified, in fact, all of the city of Jerusalem is disturbed.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. ~Matthew 2:1-3 (NIV)
King Herod is seriously worried, the child born is called “the King of the Jews” but that was Herod's title. The Roman Senate, 40 years before, declared Herod to be King of the Jews. What we have here is the clash of two Kings, two very different Kings.
First - The child Jesus was the legit king, He had the credentials-genealogy. The Bible predicted that God's appointed forever King had to be Human: Jewish; Tribe of Judah; Line of David; Born of a Virgin in the town of Bethlehem.
Jesus ticks all the boxes predicted in the bible. Herod on the other hand was the illegitimate King, that is why he burnt his own family records.
If you think you’re a little insecure? You have nothing on King Herod. Josephus the Roman Historian tells us that Herod saw everyone as a threat. He had murdered his favourite wife, he killed his own 3 sons along with the mother in law, brother in law and uncle as well as a cast of thousands It was said, “it was safer to be Herod's pig than Herod's son.” Herod is so terrified of being dethroned that he organised the mass slaughter of every boy under two in Bethlehem
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. ~Matthew 2:6 (NIV)
How different are these two kings? Herod was the butcher of Bethlehem, he spills the blood of hundreds of boys. He did not want to share his power and every boy under two paid the price. This is the dark side of Christmas. Jesus in contrast would only allow his own blood to be spilt at the cross. When they came to arrest Jesus he said to Peter “Put your sword away, I'm the only one dying this weekend.”
No surprise that 30 years later Jesus would hang under the sign: "This is the King of the Jews" (In Matt 2 is the only time King of Jews is used in a positive way re Jesus and by Outsiders) so the world would know it was written in 3 languages.
The coming of Jesus peels open the desperation we humans have for power and control. CS Lewis, who wrote Narnia, tells how he was wrestling with letting God take control.
"What mattered most of all was my deep-seated hatred of authority, …Christianity placed at the centre of what then seemed to me the great interferer.… what I wanted; some area, however small of which I could say to all other beings "This is my business and mine only" He wanted some area of his life where he could fence God out, with barbed wire and guard it with a notice that said “No admittance!”
Deep-seated resistance to give up control to King Jesus. Does this sound familiar? Of course, it does. Even as Christians we have those corners of our life where we say to God “Stay out”.
Rebellion to Christ may not always look as ugly as Herod wiping out every boy under two. Most often it's just ignoring Jesus' claim on our life. Most adopt a passive-aggressive posture to Jesus. How do we often treat people we are in a power struggle with, by limiting contact and tolerating them 2-3 hrs in the year. And maybe that is what we do with God… give him 2-3 hours a year…We are engaged in a power struggle.
Remember: A power struggle is defined this way “One person trying to change another and the other person refusing to be changed.”
Either God wants to change you and you are refusing to be Changed or you are trying to change God to agree with you and he is refusing to be changed. Herod does not want to change and worship Jesus.
There is no power struggle between wise men and Jesus, the Magi were wise men from the East, probably Persian, modern-day Iran.
I read one cartoon that said if the 3 wise men were instead 3 wise women:
It doesn’t say there were 3 of them nor that they were kings. The Magi studied the stars, probably royal advisers to the courts of the eastern nations. They came to realise that to worship the true God you must worship his Son, King Jesus.
They stopped worshipping the stars and came following a star.
Somehow (and we don't know how) they have been told that a star will take them to the King of the Jews. Do you know what makes these Magi wise? In fact, what makes anyone wise is that they worship God's appointed King of Kings. Jesus is God's way to God.
They say you can't grow your IQ but you can grow your EQ. You can definitely grow your Wisdom. There are in the end only 2 options for worship, you either worship the true God or yourself.
The Magi come to worship because they recognize Jesus as the King of Kings. They came and bow before him and were filled with Joy. They came bearing gifts fit for a King, giving him their best. They had come to worship, not the stars, but the one who created the stars. That is what you do to God's king.
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. ~Matthew 2:11 (NIV)
While the wise men travel 800km to worship, Herod cant travel 8km to go to Bethlehem. People say I want to worship Jesus but not to gather each week. In the end, you can't win if you enter a power struggle against Jesus. Herod, he plans, he plots and plays his many games and it's all a waste of effort and time, it is so futile.
What is crystal clear is that God is in control. Each time Herod plots to kill Jesus God gives Joseph and the Magi dreams, telling them to move on, change direction, like a game of chess.
Herod is outsmarted and checkmated. God is so in control as he always is.
Entering into a power struggle with God is like seeing a Buffalo run headlong into a train, you may admire its courage but you have to doubt its wisdom. The Buffalo is going to come off second best.
Are you in a power struggle with God? Who do you worship?
There are one of two options, You or God. Herod worshipped himself, his need for Power, Control, Comfort and Approval. Can you identify these idols.
If you seek power or success, or winning or influence
If you seek approval
If you seek comfort (privacy, lack of stress, freedom)
If you seek control (self-discipline, certainty, standards)
Whether it's power, approval, comfort or control, Jesus says it's time to be set free and worship me. Jesus says I am no longer a baby in a manger, I have become a man who lived the life you should have lived. I no longer hang on a cross, the price for your sins has been paid. I no longer lay in a tomb, I've risen, never to die again. I am now seated at the right hand of the father above all power and authority. I will come back and on my thighs are tattooed the words ‘King of King and Lord of Lords’
Your longing for power will be satisfied for you will sit on my throne and your desire for approval will be met, for I love you. Your need for Comfort will be addressed for I will be with you 24/7, you will have rest. Your yearning for Control will be satisfied for all authority in heaven and earth has been give to me, you can relax.
Your power struggle with me needs to come to an end. Let this day be the day when Jesus is your king and your saviour.