When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.” Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.” After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
What often gets overlooked in the Miracle of the Nativity is how Herod, the King of the Jews, reacted to hearing that the prophesied Jewish Messiah might be being born in Bethlehem during his reign. Herod’s reign was during the Roman occupation of the Jewish Nation. The Romans were tough on the Jews (including Herod) – levying very hard taxes on the all of the nations that they conquered and/or occupied. If someone couldn’t pay the taxes, the Romans would require something or someone else of the person who couldn’t pay – including their livestock, lands, Children, Wives, and even their very own lives. But you see, Herod had already sold his soul to the Romans and was equally as notorious as they were. So, rather than serving his nation, he chose to serve the Romans and himself. And, he was terrified that the promised Messiah would ruin all of that for him. He was willing to kill Jesus as an infant rather than lose his earthly possessions and lifestyle – in other words, like Judas Iscariot, he was willing to betray Jesus and go to Gehenna rather than go to Heaven at the end of his life. Isn’t that us sometimes? Do we stand-up to the “wokeness” of a world gone crazy? Do we stand-up for babies that are being butchered through the murder of abortion – the very thing that Herod was willing to do to the baby Jesus? Do we stand-up to God’s Laws on Marriage, sexuality, living, etc.? Or, do we, too, like Herod, side with the world (or the Romans)? The irony of all of Herod’s attempts to kill Jesus is that when the Romans finally had Him crucified, Pontius Pilate (the Roman Prefect in Jerusalem) put a sign above Jesus that read, “King of the Jews”. Even the Romans knew that the Jews were killing their own King. The Romans believed that all authority in the world fell to Rome and to Caesar – and not to God. It’s time today for all of us to be “greatly-troubled” like Herod was at what’s going on in the world. Division is a part of this world (Luke 12:49-56), but it’s Eternally-critical that we are sure to be on the side of Jesus – even to our own crucifixions in a world gone bonkers. For if we confess Jesus before men, He will confess us before His Father in Heaven (10:32-33) and we will reap the Harvest if we don’t give up (Galatians 6:9).