Herod, the Great and Herod Antipas ruled during Jesus’ lifetime. Jesus assured us that His kingdom is not of this world. His kingdom would last for eternity.
Mary was familiar with the name of Herod. Herod, the Great ruled during the time prior to Jesus’ birth. and ordered the death of the innocents – boys born with the last two years. He’d heard from the wise men who came in search of the King of the Jews. They had seen the star in the east announcing His birth. God warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with His Son and thus saved the little boy, Jesus.
Herod, the Great was also responsible for massive building projects in Judaea. He expanded the second temple at Jerusalem. He built a fortress city at Masada. He may have been great in creating impressive buildings, but his true nature was revealed in his ability to rule using scare tactics, subversion, and devious means. Sounds almost like organized crime or modern day politics in our country, doesn’t it?
The name Herod had become synonymous with tyrannical, fierce and heartless. Herod, Antipas followed his father’s lead by continuing his dictatorial reign, stopping at nothing to gain power in the eyes of Rome. Not only was he in charge of Jerusalem, but he held many foreign nations under his thumb and in captivity. He was murderous, deceitful, vindictive, suspicious, conniving and any other negative term you might want to add. This man thought nothing of killing some family members, because they didn’t agree with him.
This was the Herod that ruled during the time of Christ’s crucifixion – the one who marred his brother’s wife – who watched as Salome danced lustfully before him – who had John, the Baptist beheaded – who wanted to see Jesus and the miracles He could perform. He was just as murderous as his father and easily swayed by popular opinion.
He is also the Herod referred to in the arrest and trial of Jesus and His eventual crucifixion – one of the co-conspirators in Jesus’ death. During His ministry, Jesus referred to Antipas as “the Fox,” because of his nefarious dealings. He knew what kind of man this Herod was. He knew all about him.
These were the kinds of people who were governing during Jesus’ life. Though Jews were allowed to worship as they wished, they were still under the scrutiny of the government. This constant watchfulness, put the Jews on edge and they felt like prisoners in their own homes. They were also being over taxed for all the building improvements being made to impress Rome. This political climate surged through the land during the time of Jesus’ life. This tyrannical regime carried on until His death.
Jesus always would’ve been respectful of the governing rulers, because it was a command from God, His Father. Today we talk politics with each other. We state our feelings, because we live in a democracy, but we’re also part of God’s family as royal brothers and sisters of our Savior, Jesus.
In our dealings today, with those who lead us, we still must respect them and honor their choices, because God instituted government as He did everything else. All of these things were being set in place to fulfill the prophesies of old and to give us the hope of eternity.