They bowed down and worshiped him. (Matt. 2:11)

In the Christmas story, isn’t King Herod the bad guy? He sought to kill the Christ child, after all. We hear the nativity story and cheer the shepherds, those “everyday guys” to whom God first revealed His Son’s birth. We identify with them easily. And the wise magi who brought precious gifts to Jesus leave us in awe. We’d love to give our best to Him like they did. But Herod? We’re nothing like him. Right?

Matthew reveals two sides of this story, and we tend to miss one. We see the magi, who were probably highly esteemed, coming to humbly worship the newborn Jesus. They brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh, so they apparently had means. Yet, rather than puff up, they bowed down. On the other hand, we see Herod, who also had means and was esteemed, or at least feared. He brought pride, the sword, and death. He was not about to risk losing his power.

And that may be where we actually are like King Herod at times. We don’t want to give up the rule of our own little kingdoms. Forget the havoc we may cause on the way. God wants our humble worship and obedience, our participation in what He is doing. But we have our own plans. As we consider the Christmas story, it’s a great moment to ask, “Are we magi or Herods?”

Spend time worshiping Jesus today. Then reaffirm Him as Lord of your life.

Diane Gardner is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in northern California, where she enjoys reading, painting, and exploring the San Francisco Bay area with her husband.