It was the perfect storm.
Luke sets the stage for us.
“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child” (Luke 2:1-5 NKJV).
The Apostle Matthew introduced the other players that are on the stage.
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’ When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Matthew 2:1-3 NKJV).
The powers of the Rome Empire set the stage for the convergence of this perfect storm. All of the elements seemed perfectly harmless and peaceful in the beginning.
Joseph and Mary his wife arrived in the City of David, Bethlehem, meeting the requirements of Rome in registering for taxation.
The journey from their home in Nazareth of Galilee had been slow and difficult because Mary was expecting her first child.
Upon arrival they found the city so overcrowded all of the hotel rooms, bed and breakfasts, and rooms for rent were filled.
Mary had begun labor pains, making the necessity of a room even more urgent.
The only space available was a stable on the outskirts of town. Joseph made his way to the location, just as Mary was starting hard labor.
What was taking place in the barn that night would have gone unnoticed by the bustling crowds except for the event that took place in the fields of Boaz.
Shepherds, raising lambs for Passover, used those fields near Migdal Eder had an amazing experience they could not keep quiet.
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’” (Luke 2:9-14 NKJV)
After seeing the angel and hearing the message of the angelic choir, the shepherds had to go see what was taking place in the barn near their fields.
They quickly made their way to the stable and saw the heavenly child the angel had told them about. They just could not keep quiet about everything. Luke describes it.
“Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them (Luke 2:17-20 NKJV).
In spite of the shepherds, life in Bethlehem returned to normal.
The crowds dissipated after registering with the Romans and Mary and Joseph with the new born found a house in which to live. The storm was still brewing.
To the east, a caravan was coming.
That too was not unusual.
But this caravan was not loaded down with goods for the market place or merchandise for the docks in Tyre and Sidon.
This caravan was made up of scholars and theologians who had discovered the mystery of the ages.
The Jewish Messiah had been born. The promised King who would bring peace to the earth had finally arrived, two years before. They were tracking His star.
Their arrival in Jerusalem brought anxiety to the Sanhedrin and anger to King Herod.
The Magi had supposed it would bring excitement and joy, as it had to them. They had no idea they were the catalyst that would ignite the perfect storm that had been growing beneath the surface.
They came to Jerusalem specifically to see King Herod and to inquire, “Where is He who is born king of the Jews? We have seen His star in the east and we have come to worship Him.”
Herod would have no rival to his throne.
He had used persuasion to gain the appointment as Governor of Galilee from Julius Caesar.
Then he persuaded the Roman Senate to designate him, Herod the Great, King of Judaea through bribes and great treachery.
Viciously, he held onto his office through the years by murdering forty-six Jewish nobles and executing his brother-in-law, his mother-in-law and one of his wives.
He even murdered five of his own sons out of fear they would seek to overthrow his throne.
No, no, no, Herod would not have a rival king in Judaea.
That must never happen. Surreptitiously, he asked the Magi to go and find the child and worship him. Then, they must come let him know where the child was living, so he too could go worship him.
Full convergence of the perfect storm was under way.
God warned the Magi through a dream they were not to go back to King Herod after worshiping the child.
Herod would seek the child harm.
They brought gifts to the Christ child, worshiped and then fled Judaea by a circuitous route. Joseph, being warned, secretly took Mary and the child to Egypt.
King Herod became furious when realized he had been avoided and fooled by the Magi.
He took their calculations regarding the timing of the child’s birth and demanded the murder of every child, two years old and younger, living in Bethlehem and the surrounding communities.
This was his kingdom.
He would have no rival king.
Little did he know, this was just the beginning of the perfect storm; the convergence of the Kingdom of God with the kingdom of darkness.
The confrontation between Herod’s kingdom of Judea and the birth of the King of Kings was only a small manifestation of the convergence of power that would take place between the Lord Jesus Christ and the Roman Governor of Judea thirty-three years later.
The Shepherds and the Magi from the east could see the wonder and the glory of the new born King who would sit on the throne of David and the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world.
The kingdoms of men, animated by the powers of darkness, could only see a rival to their power and dominion.
The perfect storm will grow with fierce intensity.