I’ve never seen a nativity set that included Herod, and of course not, he wasn’t there—or was he? Though absent in body, Herod was a figure that should be acknowledged and reckoned with within the structure of the incarnation.
I see Herod sitting in a palace hall on a cold, moonless night—the sparks of the fire before him reflected in dark, calculating eyes. He purses his lips, and with squinted eyes he gazes into the flames.
Herod’s very name raised awareness and caution. And the closer one was to him, the more there was to fear. No one was exempt—not brother, not wife, not child.
But, perhaps on this night, there was relief in the palace as Herod’s thoughts had turned from Jerusalem and bent toward the nearby town of Bethlehem.
The wisemen had come and gone; those knowledgeable in prophesy had kept no secrets. And Herod waits—waiting, staring into the fire.
As my vision of him retreats, viewing his back—head cocked to the side—I can hear his words still echo in the corridors, “Find the child, and send me word—that I, too, may go and worship him also.” And, just before the scene of Herod closes, I think I catch the hint of a smile and a gleam of satisfaction in those dark, foreboding eyes.