Herod the Great was one of the greatest known builders of the Roman empire. His building achievements are still impressive by even modern standards. We remember this incredible architect as Herod the Great. But was he great? What is true greatness? Jesus answers that question for us.
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:25-28)
True greatness is surrender. True greatness is using your greatness to make others great. True greatness is sacrifice and emptying self to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2).
Jesus' entrance into humanity was at a point in history where the world was looking for a great revolutionary, a world leader who would use his greatness to crush Rome, to save them from Herod's ego-mania, his lust for personal accomplishment and his drive to be an object of worship. But Jesus used his greatness, not to save the world from Herod, but to save the world from the sin of Herod inside humanity. You see, Jesus' humble birth in a feeding trough made for goats and sheep was a metaphor for the life he would live - a life that was not about him. Jesus would give his life to save us from our sins. What an unexpected and yet welcome greatness!
It is appropriate to ask ourselves this Christmas season, how can we give our lives for others? What gift has God given us that we can in turn give away to emulate our Lord and Savior? How can we make our lives less about us and more about Him?