“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. 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. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “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 shepherd my people Israel.’” Matthew 2.1-6
King Herod was mad. Very mad, angry, paranoid and generally pretty pissed off (excuse my language mother! 🙂 He was the Jewish King over the Roman occupied state of Israel and wanted to keep his throne. And while he was political in nature, he was very paranoid as well. He built many large fortresses (the Herodian, Masada, etc.) in order to hide from his enemies. Now there was an enemy, a threat if you will, to his throne. This time it wasn’t a foreign occupation but one from within his borders.
It was believed that the coming Messiah would rule Israel and help them overcome invasion, threat and captivity from their enemies. The Messiah, as confirmed by all the chief priests and teachers of the law, was to be born in Bethlehem. So naturally, Herod was suspicious when Magi, kings and wisemen, came from eastern lands to worship him. They had seen his star, they said, and were looking for the one “to be born king of the Jews.”
But Herod was the king of the Jews and wanted to keep it that way. His was not anticipating the Messiah’s arrival as it would dethrone him and destroy his reign. And so, after some time, he took drastic measures and had all the little Jewish boys, two and under born in Bethlehem killed. Its so tragic.
Day Six of “Ten Days of Christmas” focuses on the aristocracy— the ruling class of which King Herod was the highest ranking member. Even though the Roman Governors had authority and power, Herod really had the inside track of power in Judea among the Jews. The Romans would come and go but the Jews would remain. Herod wanted to hold on to this power no matter whom he had to kill to do so.
Three kings are mentioned in these v.1-6 — Herod, of course, the Magi, and Jesus. Herod is full of anger and hate, the Magi express their desire to offer gifts and worship, and Jesus is the Messiah who will save humanity from their sins. What a contrast in the aristocracy we see in these handful of verses. One king full of evil, another several ready to worship and one born into this world to be a blessing and to die for the sins of all people.
Which will you follow today?
“O Lord God, the prophets do not lie, the Messiah was born in Bethlehem and his name is Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus you are glorified in his place. You were worshipped in that town even while you were still unaware of your surroundings. You were entrusted to loving parents and placed in a manger. You were worshipped and revered. Come now, Holy Spirit, return to us I pray. Come and consume our hearts with your love and compassion. Rescue us from our slavery of sin and redeem your people into a right relationship with our God. I love you and praise you Lord. I thank you for your birth and I worship you as my Lord and King. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen