Herod governed the land of Judea for 37 years. He was known as the “Kings of the Jews.” Herod’s reign would be dominated by one theme: inconceivable brutality.
Herod was tyrannical in wielding his power. He employed his police force to spy on the people and abduct those he felt were inciting protests against his governance. Worse yet was his ruthlessness with those he determined to be enemies. He ordered the assassination of hundreds of his predecessors and their staffs so as to eliminate any ongoing challenge to his authority. His murderous depravity extended to his own family. Herod ordered his henchmen to kill his brother-in-law. Later, he had his wife executed. Then, he had three of his sons murdered. It was said that it was “better to be Herod’s pig than his son.”
In the last years of his life, Herod became even more paranoid about preserving his power. One day he heard the people talking about the prophecy of a coming king:
“The Lord will send a sign, a young woman is with child and shall bear a son who shall be called Emmanuel – God is with us.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Disturbed by this nascent threat, he subsequently heard that there were Magi, wise men, in pursuit of an anointed one. A child born in a manger under the light of a shining star was said to be the fulfillment of the prophecy. Herod attempted to coerce the Magi to help him find this child-king but the Magi rejected his ploy. Having brutally extinguished all previous threats to his throne, Herod did not hesitate to combat this latest threat. He devised a plan only hate could conceive:
“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.” (Matthew 2:16)
Herod’s mercenaries set out to kill every infant boy in Bethlehem to ensure they killed the one child destined to be king of all. But, guided by a dream, Joseph had quietly taken Mary and their new born child away from danger. Amid the tragedy of the massacre of the innocents, the baby Jesus had escaped Herod’s persecution. Time passed and Herod died. Joseph was finally able to bring his family to Nazareth where Jesus was raised.
When Jesus was twelve years old, Mary and Joseph took him on a trip to the festival. Believing that the boy was with relatives, Mary and Joseph lost track of Jesus. Anxiously, they turned back in search of him. Three days later they found Jesus in the Temple teaching the elders about God. Mary asked Jesus why he had caused them so much worry. Jesus replied to her:
“Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)
Just a boy yet already a teacher, Jesus understood he’d been sent by God the Father for a special purpose and a divine mission.
Herod’s hateful massacre had failed. A child born in the light, who is the light, has overcome the darkness of the world.
Follow the light.
These Gospel stories are re-imagined in the book series:
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