“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.”– Matthew 2:16-18.
The Christmas story has a hero and a villain and they could not be more different. They share a few sentences in the Christmas story and that is all they have in common.
The villain is King Herod. There is not a lot known about King Herod, but what is known is not good. Historians tells us that King Herod (Herod the Great) was a cruel, power-hungry ruler who feared the loss of his power and ruthlessly destroyed all potential rivals with incredible cruelty and no remorse. Herod saw the baby Jesus as a threat and wanted to murder him.
The hero of course is Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah. Jesus sought first to do the will of His Father in heaven; to please, honor, and glorify Him. Jesus also came to bring people abundant life, which required Him to die on the cross, be resurrected before returning to heaven.
Jesus was perfect, sinless; Herod, was far from perfect and a cruel tyrant. Jesus gave his life and ministry as a sacrifice so that the world would know God. Herod’s life revolved around sacrificing others in order to protect himself.
Ultimately, Herod’s glory and strength were forgotten. Few people remember the accomplishments of this king. He is remembered only as a paranoid tyrant, the man who committed mass murder in an effort to save his power. The legacy and influence Jesus had on the lives of people has never been surpassed. No other person or leader has inspired so many positive changes in the lives of His followers. People who encounter the risen Christ are totally transformed. Their outlook on life is changed forever. They devote their lives to serving others, minimizing their own needs and desires.
The child in the cradle that King Herod tried to kill became the king on the cross. And because He did, there is salvation and grace. And regardless of the enemies I face or the storms in my life, God is present in my life. God is always near us. Always for us. Always in us because “Immanuel” means “God with us.”
- While the Christmas story is full of beauty and wonder, there’s a bad guy. What lessons can we learn from the life of King Herod?
- How is the story of Christmas the story of God’s relentless love for us?