“What a Big Baby Herod Was to be Afraid of a Little Baby!”
Scripture Reading: Matt. 2:1-23
Rev. Paul E. Capetz
Christ Church by the Sea (United Methodist),
Newport Beach December 29, 2019
What a big baby King Herod was to be afraid of a little baby! But what else should we expect from a tyrant? Herod was a tyrant. A tyrant is a political leader who puts his own personal concerns above truth and justice. Yet, by definition, a political leader should always be guided by truth and justice. “Politics” comes from the Greek word for “city” (polis) as in Minneapolis or Indianapolis. Politics is thus about governing the affairs of the city, and by extension the affairs of the state or nation. The aim of politics is to create a just society. But since there can be no justice where there is no truth, a tyrant’s lies serve to conceal the injustice of his rule. Let’s look at the story of Herod to see why tyrants are always threatened by the truth.
Herod was the King of the Jews. Yet he was of dubious Jewish heritage. His father was an Idumean, that is, from the land of ancient Edom, who had converted to Judaism. Moreover, Herod was appointed to be king by the Romans, a foreign occupying power. Not surprisingly, many Jews looked with suspicion on Herod and questioned the legitimacy of his rule. As a result, Herod was very insecure. He was constantly trying to prove his legitimacy as their king. One thing he did to try to win the loyalty of the Jewish people was to renovate the temple in Jerusalem when it badly needed repairs. Yet even this did not convince all Jews that Herod was a legitimate ruler. So, Herod was insecure, just as all tyrants are insecure of their hold on power.