This man decided to be an enemy of God and a tool of Satan. When he tried to kill Jesus, he literally did the work of an anti-Christ. He had no real claim to the throne. He was a descendant of Esau, not Israel who was set up as a puppet dictator/king by Caesar. Not that many of us have to deal with people like Herod that hate Jesus so much they would try to outright destroy his church or those who carry his name. Most of us deal more often with passive-aggressive types who simply want to marginalize Jesus Christ, his teachings and his church. We do however face a very real threat. As government becomes less and less tolerant of Christians in the name of being more and more tolerant of everyone else, we find ourselves in a fight of sorts. However, the question a Christ-follower must ask is not “What is wrong” and fall into fear of the future. Rather, we are to ask “What is the right attitude to have about this and what should I do in response?”
The People of Jerusalem
These people heard about Jesus’ birth and their first response is the same as Herod’s—they are “troubled.” They selfishly and fearfully wondered how this birth and Herod being upset about it could negatively impact them. Given Herod’s volatility/insanity it was a valid question except for one thing. We are never to act out of fear. Instead we must act in faith. Nelson Mandela, who died yesterday took up violence to bring about justice but changed his ways and found that the way to deal with tyranny is not to repay evil for evil. He even forgave his prison guards and gave them a prominent seat at his inauguration. No matter what happens around us, if we operate in faith instead of fear and do the right thing by the guidance of Scripture and the Spirit, we will be fine.
The Chief Priests and Scribes
They were experts, but they did not use their expert knowledge to serve God, instead they served Herod. They did not confront Herod with scripture. Instead, they simply quoted scripture that prophesied a shepherd/ruler would come from Bethlehem and went home. The right response would have been to run to Bethlehem and join the worship. James said that to know to do good and then not do it is sin (James 4:17). If we know the truth, we must act on it—we must act on him—because the truth is not a thing, it is a person. It is Jesus. The priests and scribes knew a lot, but did very little.
This is the amazing thing about the magi as opposed to the priests and scribes. These are about as far from Jews as one can get. They were Zoroastrian stargazers. They studied the Zodiac. We would call them astrologers. Yet, rather than the high priests of Israel leading the way to worship the Messiah—the truly wise were the outsiders who no Jew would have considered to be “wise men.” They are the ones who put their lives on hold for months and spend a fortune on lavish gifts and travel in order to worship the King of Kings. Unlike the priests and scribes, these foreigners knew very little, but they made full use of that knowledge and got to worship the Messiah. They left a royal court where they lived and followed a star to find treasure that money cannot buy. They got to meet the Creator of the Universe and fall at his feet.