I think at Christmas time, the one image that people have of Jesus is of the baby in the manger. Perhaps one reason why people like that scene is because Jesus is so non-threatening. He makes no demands on you. He’s just lying there sleeping.
But Jesus is no longer that baby in the manger. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. And sooner or later, people will have to acknowledge him as such whether they want to or not.
As I look at this passage, one thing jumps out to me. The reaction by King Herod and the Jews to the coming of Jesus as King.
Some Magi had come from the East. Who were these Magi? There is much speculation about them, but it’s very possible that they came from a priestly tribe of people called the Medes who lived in modern day Iran. They were people that studied astronomy and astrology, and were prominent in Babylon and Persia as advisors. In fact, in Persia, no one could become king without their approval.
In the book of Daniel, you see that Daniel himself was made to be the chief of the Magi because of his great wisdom, and some people believe that it is because of his influence that these Magi knew of the Biblical prophesies of a King that would come. In fact, Daniel had actually narrowed down the dates as to when the Messiah would appear in Daniel 9.
And so these Magi were waiting for a sign of this new King’s appearing and found it in a star that appeared in the sky. What this star was is not clear. There’s as much speculation about it as there is about the Magi. But when they saw it, they came sweeping into Jerusalem asking about who this new King was and where they could find him.
To their surprise, no one knew. Perhaps to their greater surprise was everyone’s reaction. It says in verse 3,
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
Why was King Herod troubled? For one thing, he wasn’t a true Jewish king. He didn’t come from the royal line of David. In fact, he came from the line of Esau, not Jacob. So to the Jews, he was not a legitimate king. For another thing, he was insanely jealous of his position, and had even killed members of his own family because of it.
Why were the Jews troubled? Probably because they knew what Herod’s reaction would be when he heard about a new king.
You probably know the rest of the story. Herod asked the Magi to find this king for him so that he could worship him. But after the Magi found Jesus, God warned them about Herod’s intention to kill Jesus, so they went back another way. When Herod found out the Magi had betrayed him, he had all the boys in Bethlehem two years old and younger killed.
Why? Because according to the Magi, the king was born during that time frame. (Contrary to popular belief, the Magi probably came about two years after Jesus’ birth).
But God warned Joseph to take his family to Egypt and so they escaped Herod’s wrath.
But getting back to the point of Herod’s reaction and the reaction of the people. They were troubled by the coming of this King. And to this day, Jesus troubles people whenever they confront the fact that he’s no longer a baby, but that he is a King and that they owe him their allegiance.
For some, they, like Herod, react violently because they don’t want to give up the throne of their lives. They want to be in control.
For others, like the Jews, they’re more worried about how others will react if they start following Jesus 100%. They’re worried about persecution. They’re worried about being rejected.
But one day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. Some will do so in joy and adoration. Others will do so with grinding teeth. Others will do so in shame. But all will acknowledge him as King.
Don’t you think it’s better to acknowledge him as your king now?
Who is king in your life?