Sunday, January 6, 2013

Perils of Self-Preservation (Matthew 2: 1-12)

The treasures of King Tutankhamun of Egypt reveal a lesson regarding self-preservation. Those who abuse their power in hopes of preserving their legacy provide a cautionary tale. Tutankhamun didn't live long enough to have a legacy in the pantheon of Egyptian history, or so his enemies thought. Because other Egyptian Pharaohs gathered vast amounts of riches to preserve their name, grave robbers raided their tombs only to strip their legacy. But Tutankhamun, in his obscurity, is the name from Egyptian history that many people know. What was a relatively small cache of treasure, was preserved in its obscurity, and took the world by storm when it was discovered in 1922.

The list of those who preserved their legacy at the expense of others is long--led by names like Stalin and Hitler. Herod as depicted in Matthew's Gospel enlisted every power he could, including the Magi from the story, to subvert the perceived threat to his legacy--a child born in Bethlehem. While fanatically trying to preserve his own legacy, he murdered many people, in hopes of exterminating Jesus, the Christ.

Self-preservation isn't limited to maniacal rulers, but it is a temptation for any human. What do we do with the power we have? Will we grab to increase power, or give to build others? Jesus had numerous opportunities to grab power, but instead gave it away, even to the point of his own death.

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