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Matthew 2:3

A New King

3 When Herod the king had heard [these things], he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

While trying to teach other Christians at my church to be effective witnesses, I have come to understand that the greatest barrier they need to overcome is fear of the other person's reaction. New Christians remember quite clearly how they felt when people approached them to tell them about Christ. They remember how they avoided anyone who would always try to convert them. It was similar to having a friend who always had something new to sell you, because you always felt like you were under pressure to buy something from him.

We certainly cannot deny the truth about the way people react to the gospel, but we should try to understand why they react the way they do. In today's verse Herod is "troubled" by the news that the magi were coming to worship the child Jesus. That may be easy to explain, but we are also told that all Jerusalem was troubled. That is a bit strange. This was a much longed for fulfillment of prophecy that was thousands of years old. We would expect the people to be reacting with great joy and anticipation at the coming of their Messiah. Why would the Jews be troubled by it?

Let's examine Herod's situation first. The magi were important people from a distant land. These kings of sorcery and magic did not come with the intention of visiting the king and showering him with gifts. They were coming, instead, to visit a new king with Herod's coveted title "King of the Jews"; coming to worship Him, something that no one had probably ever done to king Herod. Herod feared being replaced by this new King, who obviously had political support from even distant lands. This is why we are told that he was troubled.

The same fear is present in every unbeliever when he is asked to receive Christ. The very act of doing so means that he must step down from the throne that rules his own life and allow the King of the Jews to take over. That is a fearful thought. It is not easy to relinquish total control to someone with whom you are not real familiar. Indeed, all Christians are still dealing with the same power struggle. We have to die daily so that Christ will rule in our lives.

When we are witnessing to others, we must realize that the more uneasy they are about hearing the gospel, the more likely they are to be feeling the call of God and the pressure of the Holy Spirit to give up their throne. They are people under some degree of conviction, ready to make a decision, but are scared. We should not be trying to turn up the pressure, but to make the decision as easy as possible for them.

Why, then, were the Jewish people troubled about the arrival of the magi to worship the long awaited King of the Jews? These were God's chosen people who wanted the Messiah to come and to rule. They thought of Him as their King who would lead them to victory and to free them from their Roman rulers. Why didn't they rally around this new King and support Him, instead of being troubled by Him?

Perhaps they had fallen into a comfort zone and were afraid to get out of it. The Messiah was prophesied to create upheaval, to lead the Jews to conquer all the nations of the world, and to bring down strongholds of power. For the average person, this would have meant a large disruption in the normal everyday lifestyle to which he had become accustomed. Economic dependency on the Roman system, security from outside aggression, relative peace in most areas, freedom of worship, and other factors were also comfortable conditions that one would fear giving up, even temporarily. Finally, the prospect of war is never something to which people look forward.

Are Christians any different from the Jews of the past? We receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, desiring His leadership and guidance, and wanting to conquer the world with the gospel, but how much of our comfort zones are we willing to abandon?

Spiritual warfare takes many sacrifices. Conquering the wickedness around us for the gospel of the King of Kings cannot be done inside the walls of our churches nor from the sofa in front of the TV. You cannot make a comfortable living as a missionary to Kenya; you cannot watch the six o'clock news while passing out tracts on the street corner; you cannot make a profit from a bread ministry in the inner city ghettoes. Obtaining your victory in Jesus means abandoning your comfort zones.

Does that make you uncomfortable? Good! You now understand why the people of Jerusalem were troubled. The question to be decided is this: Will you rally around your King and follow Him into battle, or will you do as the Jews in Jerusalem?

Before The Throne:

Pray that God will help you to bring down the walls of your comfort zones. Pray that He will inspire you into spiritual battle without regard for the cost. Last night I heard a missionary say that he asked his people to pray that they would be allowed to die for Christ. Would you pray that prayer? Ask God to examine your heart and to remove the obstacles that stand between you and Him.

For Further Study:
(v.3) ** he. Matt 8:29; Matt 23:37; 1Kgs 18:17-18; John 11:47-48; Acts 4:2, 24-27; Acts 5:24-28; Acts 16:20-21; Acts 17:6-7;


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