Herod the King in his raging
Charged he hath this day
His men of might in his own sight
All children young to slay
Then woe is me poor child for thee
And ever mourn and say
For thy parting nor say nor sing
Bye-bye, lullay, lullay
It has always baffled me that a star shone in the sky over Bethlehem, announcing the Savior’s birth, and nobody noticed except for some magi who came hundreds of miles away, probably from Persia, to see this new born King. And when these magi arrived in Jerusalem, they went to see Herod to ask him where this new born King of the Jews would be. As you might guess, this would cause Herod some consternation, because he thought that he was the king of the Jews. So Herod rouses all of his biblical scholars to find out where this birth was to happen, and I’m sure some scholarly Pharisee dusted off the scroll of the prophet Micah which said: “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” (Micah 5:2) THIS King was a much bigger deal than Herod ever would be. Once he found out, Herod passed along the news to the Magi, encouraging them to come back to tell him where they found this King, so that he too could “Worship Him.”
But God knew his heart and warned the Magi to return to their home by another way. When Herod found out, he was furious, and instead of going to worship Him, he instructed his soldiers to kill all the baby boys two years old and younger. Thus, a second prophecy is fulfilled from Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15) This despicable and tragic act has been known as the Slaughter of the Innocents.
And that was the event which stirred the writing of the hauntingly beautiful Coventry Carol. There is not a lot going on in this Carol theologically speaking. It is little more than a musical retelling of the slaughter. But I mention this song because I want to know and to feel all the things surrounding the birth of Christ. I want to know the wondrous good and joy surrounding this birth, but I don’t want to miss the evil and tragedy. One child was born, and who knows how many dozens if not hundreds were slaughtered because of a crazed king.
Nearly 2000 years later, the church is being persecuted, Christ-followers are being martyred, and Christ is being dismissed, ridiculed, and scorned. Few if any would respond to Christ the way Herod did; but even to ignore Him, places you under God’s judgment rather than His mercy. So, how do you respond to the Christ?