Herod the Great thought highly of his abilities and power, and spared no effort to impress the world with his greatness. He was a schemer who feared the loss of his power and ruthlessly destroyed all potential rivals with incredible cruelty and no remorse.
Jesus, the Messiah and King of the Universe, sought first to do the will of his Father in heaven; to please, honor, and glorify him. Jesus also came to bring people abundant life, which required him to lose his life and then be resurrected to return to heaven.
Beneath the Surface
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, while Herod was born in Edom. Jesus the Messiah was sinless; Herod, the king of the Jews, was a cruel tyrant. Herod's earthly power was awesome, but stored no treasures in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus had none of the power the world could give, but his power in heaven was beyond comprehension.
Jesus gave his life and ministry as a sacrifice so that the world would know God, but Herod's life revolved around sacrificing others in order to bring glory and honor to himself. Jesus and Herod were opposites in every way; morally, culturally, spiritually, and especially in terms of their worldly status.
Ultimately, Herod's glory and strength were forgotten. Few people remember the accomplishments of this proud king. Rather, he is remembered as a paranoid tyrant the man who killed children in Bethlehem as an effort to save his power.
Jesus' legacy continues to impact millions of people throughout the world. Even non-Christians have heard about his life and death. Today, his followers still study his words and seek to follow the humble example of his life.
Lessons from the Contrast
God brought Jesus and King Herod two kings who couldn't have been more different together at the same moment in history. What was he trying to reveal about himself through this contrast?
God uses people who appear weak to triumph over those who appear to be strong. No matter how overwhelming and undefeatable a person may seem, God's power is stronger. And what is done for God's kingdom has lasting value, as opposed to fleeting earthly honors we seek for ourselves.
The contrast of Herod and Jesus reminds Christians to follow God's ways rather than the world's ways. Ultimately, we create a lasting legacy through self-sacrifice and servanthood, not though self-glorification.