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Humble Hero

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    Herod’s Jealousy Awakened

    The wise men’s strange errand created an excitement among the people of Jerusalem that reached to the palace of King Herod. The crafty Edomite was troubled at the suggestion of a possible rival. Being of foreign blood, he was hated by the people. His only security was to stay in Rome’s favor. But this new Prince had a higher claim—He was born to the kingdom.HH 23.3

    Herod suspected the priests of plotting with the strangers to stir up a rebellion and unseat him. He was determined to thwart the scheme by outsmarting them. He called in the priests and questioned them regarding the place of the Messiah’s birth.HH 23.4

    This inquiry from one who was not rightfully king, and made at the request of strangers, stung the pride of the Jewish teachers. They turned to the rolls of prophecy with indifference, and this enraged the jealous tyrant. He thought they were trying to conceal their knowledge. With an authority they dared not disregard, he commanded them to make a close search and to tell him the birthplace of their expected King. “So they said to him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:HH 23.5

    “But you Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
    For out of you shall come a Ruler,
    Who will shepherd My people Israel.”’”
    HH 23.6

    Herod now invited the wise men to a private interview. Anger and fear were raging in his heart, but he put on a calm exterior and claimed to welcome with joy the birth of Christ. He urged his visitors, “Search diligently for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”HH 23.7

    The priests were not as ignorant as they pretended. The report of the angels’ visit to the shepherds had come to Jerusalem, but the rabbis had treated it as unworthy of notice. They themselves might have been ready to lead the visitors to Jesus’ birthplace, but instead, the wise men came to call their attention to the birth of the Messiah.HH 23.8

    If accepted, the reports that the shepherds and the wise men brought would disprove the priests’ claim to be the spokesmen of the truth of God. These proud, educated teachers would not stoop to be instructed by heathen people. It could not be, they said, that God had passed them by, to communicate with ignorant shepherds or pagan Gentiles. They would not even go to Bethlehem to see whether these things were true. And they led the people to consider the interest in Jesus as merely fanatical excitement. This is when the priests and rabbis began to reject Christ. Their pride and stubbornness grew into a settled hatred of the Savior.HH 23.9

    As the shadows of night fell, the wise men left Jerusalem alone. But to their great joy, they saw the star again and were directed to Bethlehem. Disappointed by the careless attitude of the Jewish leaders, they left Jerusalem less confident than when they had entered it.HH 24.1

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