Summary: Herod was threatened by the Baby Jesus. Are we threatened by Christ? Afraid he might rule our lives?
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.
"In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
"’But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’"
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
On Friday and Saturday we will have our annual Living Nativity. It is hard to believe that this will be our 7th Living Nativity.
This is a great event. It is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy fellowship of other brothers and sisters at Sunrise.
It is also a unique opportunity to reach out to the people of our community.
I think that this year I may be playing Herod again. I’m not sure. It depends on who shows up to help out. I like playing Herod. You just sit back while slave girls feed you grapes and bananas. You get to talk tough and mean to folks trying to act like visiting Wise Men.
Herod is an interesting character in the stories of the birth and early childhood of Christ.
Herod may have been the first high-ranking government official to hear about the birth of the Christ child, but even when he heard the news, Herod had no idea who this baby really was.
The King of Judea, the Great Herod, was clueless as to who this little baby boy was.
Herod thought this baby was a threat. Matthew’s Gospel says that when Herod heard about the Baby Jesus from the Wise Men, he was greatly distressed.
That is an understatement.
Herod was terrified.
You see, Herod was a man who was in control of his own life. He took care of himself. He watched over himself. And he saw in Jesus someone who would take all that away. He was afraid that Jesus would take control of all those things Herod held dear. He was afraid that Jesus would take control of his work, his family, and his life.
And there was no way Herod would ever let that happen.
The ancient scholars said that the Messiah would be born and be the King of the Jews, but in Herod’s eyes, it was Herod who was supposed to be the King of the Jews. His father was appointed procurator of Judea by Julius Caesar in 47 B.C., and he in turn appointed his son Herod military prefect of Galilee. It was a chance to make a name for himself. Herod did his job with the sort of efficiency and dedication the Romans love, so he somehow survived the upheaval in Rome when Caesar was assassinated. He must have kissed up to Antony, the new emperor, and by 40 B.C. Herod was declared "King of the Jews" by the Roman senate.
The Jews didn’t think much of him because he was only partly Jewish. The Romans, on the other hand, were suspicious of him because he WAS partly Jewish.
Tough position to be in.
To survive, he had to have the power necessary to rule that unruly backwater of the Empire. And it wasn’t easy. He wasn’t loved. He had to instill fear in the people as a motivation for them to offer Herod their allegiance. He had to maintain order in the nation of the Jews. Because if he didn’t, Rome would send in their armies, and that would have been far worse for the Jews.