1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men[a] from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising,[b] and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah[c] was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”
(reference to Micah 5:2-4).
What interests me most in this text is the juxtaposition between what Herod expected and what Jesus represented.
Matthew was familiar with the Old Testament. He was certainly familiar with Isaiah 60 (vv. 1-6, 14, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you . . . nations will come to your light . . . herds of camels . . . gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord”) and the wise men were undoubtedly familiar with it also. They understood they were to go to Jerusalem with valuables to honor the king, but they knew the difference between the kind of king Herod was and the kind of king (the baby Jesus) our Lord would be.
Herod (appointed King of the Jews) was threatened by the baby that was to be born, “the king of the Jews,” because he fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the new king. When Herod called the wise men to investigate the nature of this baby he suspected was intended to replace him (or his heirs to his throne), the wise men quoted Micah 5:2-4 to him in an effort to enlighten him about the nature of this king.
Herod would not compare to the new king. Herod was one of the bloodiest and violent, albeit accomplished builders in history. He simply could not comprehend a king who would lovingly shepherd and feed his people – a king that would lay down his crown and sacrifice himself for his people – a king that had no political ambition.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for who you are! We pray you will make yourself known to us and show us our true identity in you. In the name of your Son we pray! Amen.