The Real King

Read Matthew 2:1-12

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’” – Matthew 2:3-5



“The Visit of the Three Kings” by Hendrik ter Brugghen (1619)

I like Luther’s comments on this passage:

From this text we learn that the wise men were not kings nor princes, but common, honest people, like the learned and the clergy. Herod does not treat them as belonging to royalty, but sends them to Bethlehem, tells them to attend to their mission, and, as if they were his subjects, commands them to bring him word again. He would not have done this if they had been kings or lords; he would have invited them to his palace, accompanied them on their journey, and treated them with great honor. For all historians agree that Herod was a pompous man, who knew how to treat people royally after the way of the world, and wished to be admired by the people.

As, however, he calls the men privately and without display and parade they must have been of much lower rank than he was.

But why does he call them privately, since the land was his and in his full control? He did it for this reason. He knew quite well that the Jews were his sworn enemies and wished to be rid of him. He was afraid, therefore, that if he called the men publicly and the Jews became aware of it, they would go to the wise men and enjoin them not to acquaint Herod with the true state of affairs, so that the new king may live before his eyes.

Whatever the reason Herod called the wisemen aside privately, his urging was to no avail. He who was troubled would trouble many people. His intentions were not good; hence he hid them from all the people. His evil plans would unfold in a vile and cruel manner. Whatever the cost, Jesus must not be allowed to take his throne.

Herod has long died. He is a footnote in history. Jesus, however, would assume his  throne, but it would be in the shape of a cross and be placed on a hill outside Jerusalem. Jesus’ throne was his cross. But in taking that throne he would die. In dying he would redeem the world and become King of all. Jesus is the real king: Not Herod. Not even the wisemen. One day he will be acknowledged as such, and will receive all honor and praise, forever and ever.

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