Herod and the three kings
“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage’. When King Herod heard this, he was frightened…” (NRSV, Matthew 2:1-3)
Our Lord’s earthly life represented the supreme personal clash between God on the one side and sinful man on the other: and that clash is reflected in the violent personal contrasts it provoked.
For example, as his life drew to its end, we see face to face in Gethsemane Judas and Peter. Both were Apostles, both had shared a common life together with Our Lord; yet while the one sought to destroy his Master, the other endeavoured to protect him. And that contrast persisted all Good Friday. Peter went out and wept bitterly, Judas went out and hanged himself.
Likewise at the beginning of Our Lord’s earthly life, the same sharp personal contrast soon revealed itself. Two contrary forces met in Jerusalem at that holy time. There was Herod, King of Judea: and there were the wise men, also Kings – from Persian lands afar as tradition has it: used, like Herod, to power and luxury, but there the likeness ends.