King Herod- he’s the character who we all ‘boo’ in children’s nativity plays: the baddie, the meanie and the villain who just wants to kill Jesus- boo, hiss! After all, he’s the person who orders that all babies under the age of two must be killed (Matthew 2:16) – and that’s just pure evil isn’t it?
Yet, at the same time I can’t help thinking there’s more to King Herod than being a paranoid psychopath. I don’t think he’s pure evil. To be honest, I actually believe his crazy command to ‘kill babies under the age of two’, stems from an emotion we’re all familiar with: insecurity. To me, King Herod seems to act more out of defence, than direct attack.
It’s not like I’m trying to make excuses for him, and say what he did was okay. I’m just trying to understand his actions. It may seem a little bit crazy, but since praying for the persecuted church not only has my passion for them increased, but also for the persecutors – yes, the persecutors!
Jesus teaches us to “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who persecuted you” (Luke 6:28) so whilst I might not love what persecutors, like King Herod, do – I’m trying to love them more.
“Whilst I might not love what persecutors, like King Herod, do – I’m trying to love them more”.
Insecurity, self-doubt, and fear- we’d do anything to get rid of the dull numbness it inflicts on us, that haunting feeling of inadequacy that just won’t go away. Unfortunately, for many people that includes doing anything to get power, even if it includes terrorising other people. It’s a pattern we see reoccurring over and over again throughout history: from King Herod to Hitler, from Nero to Stalin.
In reality, I think we have more in common with King Herod than we’d like to admit. We may not be psychopathic, but every time our insecurity stops us from speaking up for the persecuted – are we not saying that we’re basically fine with persecution?
In the words of Desmond Tutu “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
God’s best for us isn’t insecurity, that’s why he sent his son down to Earth at Christmas, so that he might grow to be a man that would die to rescue us from our mistakes and failures. God sent us his son so we become secure in his unfailing love, so that we don’t have to be slaves to insecurity.
One of my favourite bible verses is John 10:28: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, no one can snatch them out of my hand.” Maybe this Christmas we need to lean into the truth of God’s unconditional love a bit more. Allow God’s security to win over our insecurity – so that we will be unable to remain neutral in situation of injustice and persecution.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.