You’ve held the position of Herod’s secretary longer than anyone else. Today’s situation has your nerves on edge, but, you come to Herod and do your job.
“There are three emissaries from the East looking for the King of the Jews…”
“Well of course they are. Who wouldn’t want to see me. Are they bringing gifts? Don’t delay, bring them in immediately.” Herod claps his hands.
“But, Sir, you don’t understand…”
Herod approaches and stares into your eyes. “I’m not used to such insolence from you. When I say bring them in immediately I mean do it NOW! What are you waiting for?”
You bow as you back toward the door. “Yes, Sir.”
You hold the door open as the three men walk in. They bow their heads slightly to Herod before the first man speaks. “Where is He Who is born the King of the Jews?”
Herod steps back. “I am the king of the Jews. There is no other I assure you of that.”
The second man clasps his hands. “You don’t understand, Herod. We have portions of the Jew’s scriptures that have foretold of a promised One Who will rule a Kingdom that will have no end.”
Herod holds his hands out. “You don’t seem to understand. I am the only king the Jews need. What use do I have of their religion?”
The third man steps forward. “We have studied the text enough to know that this blessed event could happen at any time. When we saw the new star in the western sky we knew it was signaling this occurrence. Perhaps you can summon the religious leaders of the Jews so we can learn from them where their Messiah is said to be born.”
“Very well…” Herod looks at you. “Bring in the chief priests and scribes. See if they can give these fine men the answer they are seeking.”
You go to the temple and explain the situation to those in charge. One of the scribes goes to the scrolls and searches for the small one he knows holds the answer. They follow you back to Herod’s palace. An assembly of all involved reveals Bethlehem as the prophesied place for the birth. Herod retreats into his private chamber as the Jews depart. You follow him.
Herod paces as you stand by the door. “Why doesn’t anybody understand that I am the only king around here. I am the king of the Jews.” He pauses, takes a deep breath. “Bring our guests in.”
You open the door and motion for the three men to enter. You close the door as they assemble.
Herod braces himself on the back of a chair. “When, exactly, did you first see the star that announced the birth?”
The third man holds his hands out. “On the Jewish calendar it was sixteen months ago.”
Herod looks at each man. “Go, worship this so-called king. After you have found him bring back word to me so I, too, can worship this baby.”
He gives a back-handed motion toward the door. You open the door so the men can exit. As you turn back around Herod is staring a hole through you.
“Follow them at a distance. Make sure they come back here. I need to find that baby.”
You change into commoners clothes before the trek to Bethlehem. Grateful for the mostly downhill terrain you jog to attempt to keep pace with the camels. As you near the town a star captures your attention. You stop to determine that it is, indeed, moving low in the sky over the buildings.
By the time you get to the caravan the morning sun is up. Extreme thirst draws you to the well. You find a bucket with some water in it and pour the liquid in your mouth. The men are talking to the shepherds about their dreams of a messenger. You find your luck change when they offer you a ride. Exhaustion overtakes you as the rocking of the camel lulls you. You awaken to see the Dead Sea ahead of you. You dread your next task.
You jump from your camel and take an offer to ride a donkey from a group going to Jerusalem. The following morning finds you back in Herod’s presence. You tell him the men went home a different way.
“They did what!?” The last time you saw his veins stick out from his temples this much he ordered the death of one of his wives, along with her children. He continues to stare at you. You hope you don’t pass out from having to breathe his breath as he fumes.
“Bring me the general!” You wish the order was directed at you, but you see another leave the room as Herod continues his stare. He finally turns away when the general enters.
“Take all of your men to Bethlehem and its districts. You are to kill every male child under two years of age.”
“NO!” You feel the veins in your temples rise.
Herod turns back to you. He raises his right hand straight out from his side. “General, your sword…”
“Those children have done nothing to you! They can do noth…” Your head hits the floor. Your body falls on top of it.
I wish I didn’t have to write this post, but it’s as much a part of the Christmas story as the angels talking to the shepherds. I fear that the shock of the scene has worn off because of familiarity and avoidance. Let it make you mad! Now turn that anger toward the legalization of abortion in our current culture. It’s just as bad as Herod’s decision, and I fear we’ve become just as complacent about it.
The prophetic mention by Matthew of Jeremiah’s use of Rachel weeping for her children can be traced back to Genesis 35:16-20. It was near Bethlehem that Rachel was buried after she gave birth to Benjamin as Israel’s family returned to his homeland.
I’ll see you late. Wade