“When King Herod heard this he was disturbed.” Matthew 2:3
When archaeologists excavated King Herod’s palace—an opulent structure boasting a pool large enough to float boats! It stood on a hill outside Bethlehem that allowed the king to monitor the happenings of that little town. The prophet Micah had spoken of a ruler who would emerge from Bethlehem, and Herod, watching from his palace, was ready to squash any challenge to his throne. When the wise men came to inquire about where the “king” had been born (Matthew 2:2), Herod attempted to trick them into leading him to Jesus. And when the plan failed, he slaughtered all the boys under age 2 (Matthew 2:16). Herod refused to be outranked.
John the Baptist stands in sharp contrast. This goatskin-clad, locust-eating, desert wanderer was not a headliner like Herod. Yet, his ministry drew large crowds as he preached a message of repentance in preparation for the coming Messiah. Mark records that all of Jerusalem had gone to the wilderness to hear him. It would have been easy for John to be taken with himself. Yet, when Jesus showed up one day, John humbly turned all attention toward Christ, proclaiming, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). John counted it a privilege to be outranked by Jesus and readily turned the spotlight on the Savior.
As you think about these two contemporaries of Jesus, ask yourself whom you most resemble—Herod or John? I’m afraid, if we’re really honest, there’s a little Herod in all of us. How often do we attempt to cling to our own glory and try to squash Jesus’ will in our lives when it threatens our control of our own kingdom? Instead, if you have your head on straight, you’d be like John, and joyfully bow to the Lamb who took away our sins, directing all the attention to Him—the only One worthy to receive it.
By the way, the body of Herod was found during the archaeological dig. The headliner is dead. But the Lamb is alive! When you know how worthy He is, it’s a privilege to be outranked by Him!
- Who do you more closely resemble—Herod or John?
- Are there any attitudes or actions in your heart or head that seek to extinguish the rightful rule and reign of Jesus?
- How can you be more like John the Baptist, turning attention toward Jesus instead of yourself? Look for some specific ways to do it today!