We are again in that season of the year where the world celebrates the incarnation of Jesus Christ. In our neighborhood, one house every year depicts the same message, “Jesus is the reason for this season.”
Here is a photo of that particular house.
Unique to Gospel of Mathew is the story of the visit of the Magi from East and the flight of the family to Egypt and King Herod killing infants around Bethlehem (Matthew 2). Matthew reminds us of two kings in Chapter 2. Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King. We find both Jesus and Herod in this one verse.
The wise men have come from East asking, “where is the King of the Jews? Yes, we have come to worship Him.”
They didn’t ask where the child is who will be the king. Rather they asked where the child is who is already born as king. Notice in their question that Jesus’ royalty is already assumed. All they wanted to know was his location.
The most important disturbance came to Herod the Great who had claimed himself to be the King of the Jews. Historians says that King Herod was not even a legitimate Jew. Far from having a place in the bloodline of the Davidic dynasty, Herod’s ancestors were Idumean converts to Judaism. His father, Antipater, was a wealthy and politically connected Idumean who had been appointed by Rome to a high position in Judea.
The Idumeans were descendants of Esau, who had forfeited his birthright to his brother, Jacob, also called “Israel” (Gen. 25:33-34; 32:28). Thus, ironically, in becoming“King of the Jews,” Herod seemed to reverse the ancient fortunes of Jacob and Esau, giving the natural firstborn the upper hand. Political support from Rome and a strategic marriage to Jewish royalty gave Herod the crown around 40 BC, and he kept it through bloody intrigue for more than thirty years.
One commentator characterizes Herod as “incredibly jealous, suspicious, and afraid for his position and power. Fearing his potential threat, he had the high priest Aristobulus, who was his wife Mariamne’s brother, drowned. He then had Mariamne herself killed, and then her mother and two of his own sons. Five days before his death, he had a third son executed.”
Such was the brutality of this man who at any cost wanted to safeguard his political power. He tried to keep the Jews happy by engaging in the building of the Temple which took several years. This was the Temple visited by Jesus and his disciples several times.
His brutality is evident in his desire to kill all babies two years or younger in and around Bethlehem. That is why he secretly called the magi and asked them to find this baby so that he too can go and worship this child. Knowing who he was, we could only imagine what he would have done to baby Jesus.
A fifth-century historian, Macrobius, wrote, “When [Caesar Augustus] heard that Herod king of the Jews had ordered boys in Syria under the age of two years to be put to death and that the king’s son was among those killed, he said, ‘I’d rather be Herod’s pig than Herod’s son!’”
The magi wanted to see Him and worship Him. They offered their gifts to Jesus. King Jesus said, “I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15). We find that Jesus came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
As you can see in the contrast drawn here, Jesus is a completely different kind of King. He truly is the King of all other kings.
Do we want to follow the leadership of this world who only try to usurp more power and lead many to destruction? Or do we follow Jesus the King who lays down His life for us?
As Christians, we need to understand that we have only one King and his name is Jesus! In an age of Christian nationalism, one needs to ponder if we have given our allegiance to any humans or any other agenda other than Jesus.
Either we give allegiance to Jesus as the wise men did or we are in danger of giving other people or other idolatrous ideas our allegiance and eventually become like the henchmen for wicked Herod. Will Jesus the King of all Kings command our worship? Can we lay our treasures at His feet and stand in awe of Him?