When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.” Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.” After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
The Gospel of Herod’s missing the birth of Jesus could be the Ultimate Story of a man not stopping to ask for directions while lost behind the wheel of a car. Herod was known for being a bit of a “nut” and did some very crazy things. But, one thing was absolutely true of Herod – he was neurotically-worried all of the time. For example, due to various suspicions that he had in his own home, Herod ordered the executions of one of his wives and three of his children. But Herod was also a prolific builder who renovated and expanded the Temple in Jerusalem and helped to save the ancient Olympic Games during a financial crisis. So, how does this guy miss all of the signs of Jesus’ birth to the point of not even having the three Wise Men “tailed” (followed) by one of his top spies? Why would he risk losing his kingdom (which is clearly what his Religious Scholars were telling him given the emergence of the Wise Men in his city)? And, why would he then try to pull a “Hail Mary” (pun-intended) and have all of the male children under the age of two in Bethlehem massacred after missing his first opportunity to kill the Messiah? The Truth is that God saw to it that Herod (with his debased mind) would miss all of the important stuff. But, more importantly for all of us, Mary, Joseph, the Magic, and the Shepherds used God’s GPS to bring them all to the Nativity of Christ on the most Blessed night that the world has ever known. God’s GPS isn’t secret; His GPS resides in many places (e.g. the Bible, Jesus, Miracles, others, etc.). We can choose to be like Herod and miss all of the Signs or we can choose to look for them. The Magi saw the Signs of the Messiah from their hometown somewhere in the East; with estimates putting them somewhere between 400-700 miles away. Conservatively, a trip of 400 miles would have taken them approximately two to three weeks on camels (or around a month’s journey by foot). They saw and embraced the Signs and were rewarded with welcoming the King of kings into this world. By embracing the Signs in our lives, we can follow in the Magi’s footsteps and, like them, get to welcome Jesus into our hearts. There is no Greater Gift!