“Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking,“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem.” – Matthew 2:1-3.
The third person who missed Christmas was Herod. It is very hard to find anything good about him. Basically, Herod was a selfish and evil man. We could probably call him the first Scrooge.
The Bible tells us that Herod called the religious leaders to find out where the future king should be born. He was told “Bethlehem.” After that, he called the wise men and asked them to report to him if their search in Bethlehem proved fruitful. God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod so they returned home by another route. Herod was enraged and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary had already fled to Egypt.
The palace of Herod was brimming with wealth and luxury at the time Jesus was born. Fast forward to today. All that “Herod the Great” ever owned lies in the broken ruins and dust of the Middle East. There are no hospitals built in Herod’s name. No colleges or universities claim Herod as their inspiration. No charities rally people to a good cause by remembering Herod’s influence. Herod’s picture doesn’t adorn anyone’s building, home, or jewelry. If it weren’t for the Christmas story, most of us would have never heard this man’s evil legacy.
On the other hand, there is Jesus. In the beginning, Jesus was born in a homeless set of circumstances, while Herod enjoyed his choice of palace beds. In the beginning, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus ran from Herod. While Herod had enormous wealth, Jesus never had a penny. Herod had palaces, but Jesus had simple lodging. He probably slept on the ground, or in borrowed beds more than his own bed, during his ministry. To the untrained eye, in that day, Herod and his kind were in control, had the power, and left a great legacy.
In the end, however, Herod lay dead, and Jesus lived. Even after His death, Jesus lived again, and today, the world is a changed place not because of Herod “the Great,” but because Jesus lives.
See the baby Jesus in a new and fresh way this Christmas season. Give us ears to hear the angels singing. Give us feet like the shepherds to go swiftly to Bethlehem. Give us hands like the Wise Men to offer Him the best that we have. Give us hearts of love to worship Him.
- Why do you think God included Herod in the Christmas story?
- What can we learn from the story of Herod?
- What can we do this season to ensure we don’t miss Christmas?