Sunday, January 6, 2019


It's the Feast of the Epiphany and the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles, represented by the three Kings or Magi, Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar. As everyone knows, they offer the infant Messiah three gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh. 

Gold for kingship, incense for divinity and myrrh for death, and there we have it, an epiphany. Jesus is the God King who will die for our sins upon the throne of the cross. So much is clear, but consider the gospel (Matt 2:1-12) and another figure emerges, Herod.

He, like Christ, is a king. As he stood at the end of his life, clothed in a robe of spun silver, he was hailed as a god and death followed in the wings. An agonizing and revolting death, the culmination of a murderous reign which saw the massacre of the Innocents, three of his sons and one of his many wives.

Now, stand back and reflect on Mathew's account. We see three sets of kings, Christ, Herod and the Magi, and three gifts; these describe Christ and Herod. Both are kings, are seen as gods and death, like a shadow, accompanies each. So much for similarity.

Christ's kingship is heavenly, he exercises his power in love; perfect, sacrificial love that will lead him to the Cross. He dies that we might live. 

Herod's kingship is earthly; he commands armies and reigns with magnificence and immense wealth. His rule is characterized by murderous pride and ambition, he kills that he might live.

So we see an epiphany within an epiphany, two models of kingship, one earthly the other divine. Herod and Christ. 

The question is, which path do you choose?

Your old buddy,



LL said...

Herod was cunning enough to court the favor of the Romans and to rule as their satrap. His building projects are well known. He held power through various contingents (Germanic, Gallic, and Jewish) and killed anyone who got in his way who was NOT a Roman citizen. He kept the lines of supply and communication between Rome and Egypt open and his Roman masters approved of him. I think of him a lot the same way as I do French President Macron...except Macron hasn't built anything. Maybe Macron is a failed Herod?

(Matthew 6:19, 20) Herod didn't know where to lay up treasure. He put his trust in Roman gold. Never the right option. Herod died in Jericho of a putrefying illness and he did not die well. I don't know how his soul was received, but he may have wished that he was back in Jericho, rotting to death.

Jules said...

I choose the road less travelled. I quite fancy a robe spun from silver.

Always On Watch said...

Death or life? Should be an easy decision, yet many do not choose life!

LSP said...

Juliette, I know that Christmas isn't just about presents. But I think you should have that gift.

LSP said...

He certainly came to a bad end, LL.

I like Augustus, "Better to be a pig than one of Herod's sons."

Is the same true of Macron, who notoriously hasn't built anything? Will Brigitte demand cloth of silver on the taxpayer centime?

Time will tell.

LSP said...

They sure don't, AOW. You'd think culture of life v. Culture of death would be an easy choice. But despite their eyes they cannot see.

Adrienne said...

Such a perfect explanation of Epiphany, LSP. Thank you...

LSP said...

Thanks, Adrienne. I was struck by the "herodian antithesis" this year. What a bad man! Mind you, his behavior was on a par with his imperial betters in Rome, which says something about the world Christ was born into.