Journey to the Manger: Wise Men and Herod

Jackson works on his Journey to the Manger color by number of the Wise Men.

Jackson works on his Journey to the Manger color by number of the Wise Men.

Today, we went with the Wise Men to talk with King Herod on our Journey to the Manger.

When the Wise Men arrived in Judea, they went to the epicenter of the Jewish religion: Jerusalem. There they had an encounter with King Herod, who apparently did not know the King of the Jews had been born, and was not excited about the news. Herod inquired of the Jewish scribes, who told him Bethlehem would be the birthplace of the Messiah.

In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall become a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”

– Matthew 2:5-6

Wise Men talk with Herod

Wise Men talk with Herod

The Wise Men had followed the leading of God Almighty to make their trek across the desert to see the newborn King. The Star God had placed in the sky served as their compass. They trusted God’s divine guidance to bring them into the Son of God’s presence. So when King Herod tried to pull a fast one on them and trick them into giving over the child’s location to end the threat to his reign, the Wise Men trusted God again. Warned in a dream given by God, the Wise Men returned home another way. The Magi proved they truly were wise by following God’s word above human authority.

Wisdom was desperately needed in the time Jesus entered as a baby, and in our day, too. Wisdom can only be found in God, in listening for His voice and following His command. The Wise Men understood that a God who could shape and create the stars deserved their attention and worship. God is worthy of our trust and our obedience.

 

Click here to learn more about celebrating Advent with your family this Christmas, including access to a Scripture plan, free downloads and activity ideas. For more on Journey to the Manger, an advent experience from Focus on the Family, visit the Thriving Family website.

Journey to the Manger: King Herod

During our Give and Take game, both kids tried to "take" the rope, and ended up frustrated (just like we do when we are selfish and do not think of others).

During our Give and Take game, both kids tried to “take” the rope, and ended up getting nowhere (just like we do when we are selfish and do not think of others).

Today we learned about King Herod on our Journey to the Manger.

King Herod

King Herod

King Herod was a mean man. Desperate to keep his power, Herod constantly looked to place himself ahead of others, with whatever means necessary. When wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem looking to worship the King of the Jews, Herod tried to squash this new threat to his preeminence by lying.

Then Herod secretly summoned the wise men and asked them the exact time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you find Him, report back to me so that I too can go and worship Him.”

– Matthew 2:7-8

King Herod’s intentions were to kill the child the wise men were seeking. In fact, after Herod realized the wise men weren’t going to return to tell him the location of the child, he sent soldiers to murder every baby age two and under in Bethlehem to make sure this so-called “King of the Jews” would not rise up against him.

A sure-fire way to destroy Christmas is to make it all about you. King Herod was only concerned with himself, leaving destruction and great sorrow in his path. On the other hand, Jesus came to give peace and new life. Often as Christmas approaches, we have a tendency to focus on “what we’re getting” instead of “what we’re giving”. This can leave us feeling empty and unhappy.

Today, we participated in a “Give and Take” illustration. Jackson and Lauren each held the ends of a rope. When they both tried to “take”, they fought against one other to pull the rope their way. Neither was happy, and both were provoked. Then, when one “gave” and the other “took”, it had the potential to make one stumble (we made sure to have pillows behind us as we experimented!) Finally, when both “gave”, it brought them together.

Christmas is about giving: God gave us His One and Only Son. We, too, can offer others the hope and love of Jesus. We can share gifts to show we care about others. When Christians give, it not only unifies us, it brings us closer to God’s heart.

When we choose to give it brings us closer to each other, and to our Heavenly Father.

When we choose to give it brings us closer to each other, and to our Heavenly Father.

Click here to learn more about celebrating Advent with your family this Christmas, including access to a Scripture plan, free downloads and activity ideas. For more on Journey to the Manger, an advent experience from Focus on the Family, visit the Thriving Family website.