Suggested Date: December 19th
Today we meet Herod, who was known to the Romans as the King of the Jews. Herod was Jewish, but tried to walk the fine line of appeasing those within his kingdom as well as the powerful Roman Empire that had given him the title and the job. Jesus’ birth coincided closely with the end of Herod’s reign. As you’ll see reflected in the reading today, Herod was viciously cruel and increasingly ruled by a paranoid jealousy.
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-15
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
1. Why was King Herod disturbed by Jesus’ birth?
2. How did the wise men respond when they saw Jesus?
3. Why didn’t the wise men do what Herod asked?
4. What happened after Herod sent the wise men on their way to Bethlehem?
5. Why do you think the Magi brought the specific gifts they did?
6. Why might Jesus’ birth have been a threat to King Herod?
King Herod, the “King of the Jews,” ruled with an iron fist. Anyone who was even a potential threat to his
rule was killed or sent away. Now, a new King had come, but He lay helpless in a manger. Later, this King
would also be given the title “King of the Jews” as a mockery while He suffered on a cross. But in contrast
to Herod’s ultimately pointless grasping for control, Jesus’ kingdom would be won by His voluntary sacrifice and giving of Himself for us.
respond in worship
respond in prayer
Pray for the world today. Pray that people’s hearts will turn toward Jesus and that everyone will come
to know the love and mercy that Jesus offers.