Reflection: Characters of Christmas: Herod
By the time of Jesus’ birth King Herod was about 70 and plagued with illness. He was going mad. He had executed a number of his own family, including his wife and three of his sons. His most infamous crime was the slaughter of all the young boys in Bethlehem under two years of age. Herod was paranoid about any perceived threat to his throne.
Wise men from the East came to Jerusalem and informed Herod of the birth of the Messiah. This is the news Israel has been waiting centuries to hear. Herod feigns excitement but this masks his deep-seated fear and anger. He was troubled. Surprisingly, Matthew tells us, “and all Jerusalem with him”. The irony is striking. Pagan Gentiles race off to greet and worship Israel’s new-born king while not a single Jew goes to Bethlehem.
John tells us that Jesus, “came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (1:11). Let’s pray that this Christmas people will receive the One who came to save them, and not respond to the good news with disinterest, scepticism or, even, disdain.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that the gospel is for both Jew and Gentile. I pray that you will continue to reveal yourself to many Jews that they may embrace their Messiah and find the salvation that you promised them. Amen.