It’s interesting, in that second chapter of Matthew—
that familiar story of the arrival of the magi in Jerusalem,
the first two times Herod is mentioned by name (Matthew 2:1 and 3),
he’s referred to as King Herod.
But after Scripture, remembered and affirmed
by the religious authorities,
confirms that Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem
(Matthew 2:6)—”the ruler who is to shepherd my people,”
the next two times Herod’s mentioned by name (Matthew 2:7 and 12),
he’s just plain Herod.
I’d heard that before.
Probably not new news for many of us,
but for the first time, this year, I noted
how in describing the secret meeting between Herod and the magi,
between the two references to Herod as just plain Herod,
the text reads that when the magi had heard
the king’s (Matthew 2:9) plan, they set out.
So the text,
apparently rather intentionally,
in its unfolding,
separates being and doing,
coming to depict “king” as role or function.
It’s not who Herod was, in other words,
it was what he did.
We get that mixed up a lot.
We allow what we do,
and how what we do is received,
to be internalized as who we are
and as response to who we are,
and Herod could not take the separation
that could have set him free.