By John RisnerDecember 4, 2017
The Christmas classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, is the story of how a mean old Grinch devised a plan to halt the most wonderful time of the year. Herod the Great was a real-life Grinch who tried to thwart the Christ child from being born as the King of the Jews. You won’t find him in any nativities or referenced in carols, but he plays a significant role in the Christmas story in the Bible.
“During the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’ When King Herod heard this he was disturbed.” (Matthew 2:1-3 NIV)
Historians have filled page upon page of Herod’s biography and accomplishments. He was brutal and shed much blood to secure his throne. His father was killed by poisoning, which meant that Herod emerged as his political heir and successor. He quickly rose to become King of Judea and ruled as a barbaric, manipulative leader.
The one born king of the Jews was living right under Herod’s nose—and he didn’t even know it. But when the wise men came asking about the king of the Jews, Herod was disturbed. He was angry and fearful that another king might threaten his rule. He wanted control. He wanted the throne. Herod went ballistic and sent orders to kill all the male children two years old and under. It reminds us of Pharaoh’s orders to do the same to the male Hebrew babies in Egypt in Exodus 1-2. But just as God provided and prepared a way for Moses to escape such a death sentence, so God provided and prepared a way for Jesus to escape Herod’s wrath.
Peace has come to earth. King Jesus brought a kingdom of peace and taught us to love our enemies. Quite a contrast to the brutality of the evil king. Herod thought that he could use violence to get his way. All his senses were blinded by rage, anger, and a desire to control his own destiny. There was no room for another way in his mind.
Jesus, the one born King of the Jews, would have a very different legacy. William Hendriksen compares the two kings:
King Herod was a destroyer of people. King Jesus was the Savior of people. â€¨
King Herod eventually lost all he thought he controlled. King Jesus was, is, and always will be in control of all.
This is Peace. A gentle king.