When King Jesus comes corrupt kings tremble.
They rightly tremble because Jesus really is a threat to them. Jesus is not a threat to power in general. He’s not a threat to godly leaders. But he is absolutely a threat to corrupt power. King Herod was making an accurate calculation when he stayed up late that night with the frets (Matthew 2). He was a tyrant. Jesus was the savior King. Things we’re going to go bad for him.
Many people have bought into the sacred secular divide to such an extent that this point is lost on them. They think that we could have brought peace to this conflict if only we could tell Herod that Jesus was a heavenly savior not an earthly savior, a spiritual savior not a physical savior. “You’re all good Herod, Jesus’ kingdom has nothing to do with your kingdom.” That’s silliness. Herod saw the connection and so should we. Jesus’ kingdom has everything to do with the kingdoms of this world.
The babe that was born in Bethlehem is God and King. So we agree with the psalmist in Psalm 2 and add our voices, “Now therefore O kings be wise, be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you perish in the way” (Psalm 2:10-12).
But polluted powers who refuse to bow will rebel. That’s what Herod did. He plotted against the Lord and His Anointed. It is apparent from Herod’s slaughter of the little boys that he wanted Christ dead. He wanted the Messiah to vacate his jurisdiction. Here is an extension of a point that we already have trouble grasping. In our secular age, we’re told that we can coexist. We’re told all is fine as long as you’re true to yourself. Yet, having seen there really are corrupt powers in the world threatened by the Most High, we now see that those corrupt powers take up arms against their Creator.
That’s what they’re doing when they coax the 10-year old boy to dress up in girl’s clothes and strut down a runway like a drag queen. Which is happening now. They’re taking up arms against the Most High when they pay off a woman who has been abused so she’ll stay quite. They’re seeking to suppress Christ and His ways when they murder the unborn and sell their body parts. They’re raising their hand against the Almighty when they blatantly disregard the first and greatest commandment by establishing schools, businesses, and governments that have no place for God’s Word.
But, as they rebel they aim to cover their tracks. These corrupt powers pretend like they’re not doing anything like rebelling. This is what Herod does when he says to the wise men, “bring me word, that I too may come and worship him” (Matthew 2:8). Ungodly powers do the same in our day, pretending like they have no problem with the God of the Bible, pretending like their godlessness is not godless, pretending like crooked is straight. As a result of this deception many religious leaders have been co-opted by sinful authorities to do their bidding. That’s what happened when the chief priests and scribes coughed up the information Herod wanted. They must have felt so important being welcomed into the inner workings of the great king.
What’s the call to us then? Don’t let the wool be pulled over your eyes. Those who rebel against God are not seeking the good of mankind. They’re not indifferent to God. They’re not agnostic. They’re opposed to Him, His ways, and His Christ.
But there’s no need to fret. Although corrupt powers rebel against Christ, they’re not very good at it. The trembling corrupt king keeps missing his mark. Herod secretly wants Jesus dead but he doesn’t get what he wants. Herod realized he was tricked by the wise men. God’s in the business of messing up bad guys’ plans. Psalm 33:10 says, “The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.” This is what He did when Pharaoh had a plan to keep God’s people in Egypt. This is what He did when some people sought to build a rebel tower to the heavens called Babel. This is what He did when the devil himself tempted Christ. God the evil-destroyer thwarts the plans of the wicked.
We should take courage. Though many schemes are worked against we who are in Christ, none of them shall prosper. Isaiah 54:17 says, “No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, declares the LORD.”
What do the corrupt authorities do when their plans go down in a cloud of dust? They throw a temper tantrum. The enemies of God don’t go down nicely. They’re not what you would call gentlemen. Herod pitches a very costly fit as he slaughters all the little boys two years old and under. His evil co-rulers did the same. Nebechudnezzar king of Babylon demanded God’s children be thrown into a fiery furnace when they would not worship him. Haman demanded that Mordecai be hung on the gallows when Mordecai would not bow before him. After Christ’s ascension, such evils went on. The Roman Emperors Nero and Decius slaughtered the holy ones in outrage against our Lord. The devil appears to have a similar final deception preceding his final place of torment in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7). We should grieve these outlashes from the wicked. Yet we should also see them for what they are. Hopeless attempts to flail against Yahweh.
Why are their attempts hopeless? When King Jesus comes corrupt kinds lose. Herod died (Matthew 2:19). The end. Full stop. This the end of God’s enemies. This is the end of wicked kings. They will lose the battle against their Creator.
What are we to learn from this survey of Herod’s trembling at the coming of Christ? The lesson is, Jesus has come — so down with all evil powers. Be they earthly authorities, they need to be witnessed to by a prophetic church. Be they corrupt organization, let the good news be heralded so they might be brought to nothing. Be they unbelieving friends, let us love them with grace and truth so they bow to Christ. Be these evil powers the ones residing within our flesh, then may that flesh be crucified. Whatever they be, the point is they will not stand, they are shaking and crumbling because Jesus has come.