Say what you will about Herod, but at least Herod got it.
Herod was committed to telling his story and would not be swayed. Herod may have been cruel and vengeful, he may have been suspicious and merciless, but at least he knew what he wanted out of life, and this baby threatened that vision. At least he was committed. At least he had vision. At least he was not some pathetic follower. At least he was not like another character in Matthew 2 – he was not Joseph.
Now there is a guy who lacked vision for his life. Uneducated, a tradesman, a nobody, with no real aspirations and no real dreams. Or at least apparently not – because look at the rest of Joseph’s story. He married a woman of questionable reputation and became a father to a bastard child. He moved his family all over the place, away from family, into the pagan land of Egypt, then to the sticks out in Nazareth, which showed he cared little for advancement in his own career. Here is a guy who has no vision for his own story.
Or here is a guy who early on in his life realized that his story – his career, family and dreams – only had importance when seen in light of the baby. That’s why he left home and family. That’s why he had to start over so many times. That’s why he worked at a job with little reward – it was because he knew that he was important because of his relationship to the kid. Here is a man, a father, a carpenter, a hero, who gave up his story for the sake of Jesus. In that sense, Jesus was just as much a threat for Joseph as he was for Herod.
We have a choice this season about whose example we want to follow. Jesus is still a threat. He still demands absolute centrality. He demands that we give up our own story in order to more fully tell his. But that threat is more than a threat – it is a call to participation in something eternally meaningful and significant. It is an offer to give up our small, little story to be a part of His. It is an offer for us to find our importance in terms of our relationship to Him rather than our own accomplishment. We can either choose to accept the threat to our story and find something bigger, or we can choose to eliminate the threat by clinging to our vision of what our lives should be. Who do you want to be? Herod or Joseph?
You can read Part 1 of the series here.