To say that the two Kings, Herod and Jesus, merely “crossed paths” is way too mild. According to a fundamental law of physics, the force of impact depends upon speed and direction. Jesus and Herod were both moving fast, but from totally opposite directions. King Herod represented the popular perspective on power: Get it, keep it, use it. King Jesus had a more simple, yet radical philosophy: Use power to serve others.
No wonder the two kings clashed. They both possessed immense power, but how they chose to use it revealed the hearts of two radically different men. One was a tyrant, the other a servant. One was consumed with self-interest, the other focused on pleasing God and serving others. One manipulated, slandered, deceived, and coerced; the other healed, touched, taught, and loved.
Herod the Great was rich in what most of us consider valuable, yet he was totally bankrupt as a human being. He was addicted to power, obsessed with possessions, focused on prestige, and filled with paranoia.
In order to fully understand the opposite paths of Herod and Jesus, let’s take a look at the end of the story. Herod, with all his wealth and power, came to ruin. In the final year of his life, his body was infected with disease; his pain was so bad that he often screamed throughout the night.
Jesus, after a life of poverty and lowly position, descended yet further — to a rough-hewn wooden cross. His cries, like Herod’s, also pierced the night. By completely yielding His power, He also died. But there was a critical difference — Herod could not save himself from death; Jesus could have, but He chose not to.
In life, Jesus willingly suffered — from the abuse by religious leaders, the ignorance, hard-heartedness, and rejection of many people, the constant threats to His life, the betrayals of friends, the beatings, and His death on our behalf — all for a single purpose: to demonstrate God’s outrageous love. While Herod wielded the power of hate and self-protection, forming armies, building fortresses and killing at will, Jesus wielded the power of liberating love.