Lathra: the Liar and the Lyre at Christmas

The story of Christmas involves strong leadership and weak leadership, a lyre and a liar, truth and secrecy, rescue and death.


The husband, in Christian life, is naturally seen and expected to be a leader.
Which makes the story of Jesus’ birth that much more interesting, because in the story of the birth of Jesus, we see two men — one a strong leader, the other a weak leader, one who respects the truth, the other who clings to selfish secrecy.

In the story, we see two prominent male characters, Joseph and Herod.

One makes a decision that leads to lyres, the other makes a decision that leads to lies and death.

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. Matthew 1:18-19

Joseph, by Jewish custom, was in the second stage of marriage: he was betrothed to his wife, yet they were in the interim period of marriage until the ceremony and consummation took place. For all intents and purposes, Joseph was Mary’s husband, and thus the leader of the family.

And so it was odd that he found his wife, whom he could not have sexual relations with, to be suddenly with child.

“Being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame,” Joseph decided to quietly divorce his wife.

The word for “quietly” is very interesting here because it has a more common translation.

In the Greek language, the word is lathra, and it’s more common translation is “secretly.”

Joseph wanted to dissolve his union and his future… secretly.

And then there was Herod.

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” Matthew 2:7-8

In verse 7, the word “secretly” comes from lathra.

Two men. Two figure heads. Both important in this story. Both acting in secret.

Yet, King Herod didn’t really want to worship Jesus, the king of the universe. Instead, he wanted to kill Jesus. His secrecy had death as its intention.

Joseph decided not to divorce his wife, to not carry out his secret intentions, and the decision to stay away from that deplorable secret led to life forevermore.

In fact, his decision led to worship, as Gentile, pagan astrologer/kings came to worship the King of the Universe.

That’s worth breaking out a lyre for, wouldn’t you agree?
That’s worth worship, isn’t it?


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