Herod is the most infamous character in the Christmas story, but he is often edited out of the sermons we preach. Reflecting on Herod’s part in the story can help us see in new light what the coming of Jesus means and why it can at times be uncomfortable.
Herod had been appointed by the Romans as ‘King of the Jews’. Though he wasn’t Jewish himself, he was the one the Romans wanted to use to pacify the people of this region, and in return he had been given title, position and prestige.
When Herod heard the magi asking about ‘the king of the Jews’, he immediately became threatened. He wanted to know more, not because he wanted to join them in worship but because he sensed a rival for his throne and wanted to eradicate him.
The coming of Jesus meant that Herod was no longer the big deal he had thought himself to be, and the same is true for all of us. In recognising the king that God has sent into the world, we all need to face the reality that he is the one who takes centre stage and is of primary importance. It challenges our own selfish ambition. Will we do what Herod did and seek to resist and oppose this king sent by God, or will we join the magi in laying our gifts and our worship before him?