Whenever we read the Christmas story, most of us put ourselves in the story somewhere. Perhaps we see ourselves as shepherds or maybe even wise men (ok, let’s not pick this one).
Some could choose Zechariah, Elizabeth, Joseph, or even Mary. Others may see themselves as the innkeeper, although he’s never mentioned in the story.
But none of us would choose to be Herod. Although, given a different setting, at the very least, we could admire him. Think about it.
Herod was politically savvy. He could walk the tightrope between the Romans and the Jews. Or, when expedient, he could play them against each other.
He was ruthless in business. He amassed a great deal of wealth. He was the captain of his own fate, the master of his own soul. Does this sound like anyone we know?
Sure it does. Browse the self-help section of Amazon books and you’ll see title after title about how to become King Herod yourself.
But none of us would dare claim to be Herod. He was evil.
Yes, he was. And that’s my point.
None of us can imagine how dark a person’s soul has to be in order to do some of the things Herod did. It’s true, and this is what makes this part of the story so unbelievable.
See, the wise men came to him and told him they were looking for the “One born King.” Herod knew the Jewish Bible. He knew what the prophets had said. All Herod had to do was drop his crown, follow the wise men to Jesus, and bow down in worship. But he didn’t. He couldn’t.
We all know why. The crown was too precious, the power too addicting, his position too self-defining.
Herod missed his chance.
This Christmas, there will be wise men and women who will tell you to come with them to find the Christ child. Will you go? Or will you hold onto the crown of your own life, counting it more precious than Jesus?