I was mulling over Herod recently. Not a surprise really, given that it’s been Christmas and Epiphany is approaching fast.
What do we know about Herod? I guess the most common fact is that he tried to kill Jesus. But let’s start at the beginning…
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’ 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
So, Herod is on the throne (well, he’s a sort of underling king, I suppose). One day, he gets a visit from a foreign delegation. In itself, maybe that’s not an unusual thing. But these guys turn up and ask after his successor. Not a great thing if you’ve not recently had any sons… No surprise then that Herod is ‘disturbed’. (Though you’ll notice ‘all Jerusalem’ is disturbed with him) But it seems from the next verse that he knows it’s not his successor as Tetrarch that’s on the way, but the Messiah; God’s chosen one.
4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.
His claim to the Magi is that he wants to find out where the Messiah is, so that he can ‘go and worship him’. Thankfully, the Magi are warned in a dream that Herod’s motives are less than pure, and they potter off home the scenic route. Sadly, this doesn’t go down so well with Herod.
16 When Herod realised that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
He’s not taken too kindly to the thought of giving up his throne, has he?
And I was mulling this over, and realised that he’s not all that dissimilar to me.
You might recognise this picture from Two Ways to Live. Maybe it was different for Herod, maybe it wasn’t… You see, Herod faced a choice as to who he wanted on the throne, and so do I. Do I press on with my own desires and running my life my way? Do I keep my grip firmly on the throne? Or do I look at Christ and recognise that my life is better run by Him? Do I stand up from my throne, turn around and kneel as He takes charge?
I don’t want to be like Herod.