The Gospel of Matthew: Herod’s Really Bad Day.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; “(Matthew 2:1–3 (ESV)

We previously examined the life of Herod the Great. He was a ruthless, paranoid king who was not above killing real, or suspected, rivals to his throne. He would stop at nothing, including eliminating members of his own family, to ensure that he kept his power.

When Herod heard about the Magi’s quest and inquiry into the new born king of the Jews, he was troubled. He quickly paid attention to what was being said and he didn’t like what he was hearing.

The word troubled (ταράσσω; tarasso) means to be disturbed and to experience great mental distress. Herod’s mind was stirred. In fact, the Greek word for troubled can mean a riot going on in one’s mind. Herod experience acute emotional distress and turbulence. In short, Herod was not happy.

The text also says that all Jerusalem was troubled along with Herod. Why? It was because the Jewish populace in Jerusalem knew what Herod was capable of when he suspected his power was threatened. They knew he would do everything and anything he could to destroy any challenger. No one was safe.

Perhaps Herod’s fear and disquieted reaction to the news of the Magi’s search is best explained by one commentator. “It is no surprise that King Herod … was disturbed when the Magi came to Jerusalem looking for the One who had been “born King” (v. 2). Herod was not the rightful king from the line of David. In fact, he was not even a descendant of Jacob, but was descended from Esau and thus was an Edomite. (He reigned over Palestine from 37 b.c. to 4 b.c.). This fact caused most of the Jews to hate him and never truly to accept him as king, even though he did much for the country. If someone had been rightfully born king, then Herod’s job was in jeopardy.”

While 2,000 years separates us from Herod, there remains to this day people of power who will do anything they can to humiliate or destroy those with whom they feel threatened. This can happen not only politically, economically, militarily but also even religiously. This occurs when people who hold sway within an organization will exert their power and influence to hire and fire anyone indiscriminately. This creates an unhealthy environment; whether it is within a business, government, or a local church.

Are there King Herod’s in your life? Are there people who you know who will do anything to justify their behavior and to keep their power and influence over you and others? Remember that their authority, whether real or imagined, is no match for the sovereign God of the universe. What was true in Herod’s day remains so in our own.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

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