Any good reporter will tell you there’s always a story behind the story. The obvious facts and circumstances often don’t reveal what’s really going on. If you really want to know what’s going on, you have to get, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story”.

There’s a wonderful example of that in the familiar biblical account surrounding the birth of Christ. We know all about the shepherds, angels and the wise men from the east. We can picture the stable, the manger, and the animals who were first hand witnesses to the birth of our Savior. We’ve seen that story acted out in numerous children’s programs, depicted on Christmas cards, made into nativity scenes, and described in countless Christmas songs and carols. But there’s a story behind the story we shouldn’t miss!  

There’s a character in this story that often is overlooked or relegated to simply the role of the disgruntled employee. King Herod served at the bequest of the Roman Emperor. Somewhat of a puppet king, as long as there were no major problems in his region and the Roman taxes were paid, he was free to do pretty much whatever he wanted. However, even Herod knew his position was somewhat tenuous. He could easily be replaced by Rome at a moment’s notice. Therefore, it was important for him to know what was going on in “his kingdom”.  

When the Magi from the east stopped by to inquire where the new King was to be born, you can almost imagine Herod’s ears perking up and his face getting red! What was this new threat to his reign and rule? Learning more, he realized he had to do something. In the guise of joining the wise men in their worship of this new king, he sent them on the way to Bethlehem and instructed them to “Go and make careful search for the child…”.  Unfortunately, he had no real intention of welcoming this new intruder into his kingdom. The story behind the story for Herod was one of jealousy and evil intent. He missed an incredible opportunity to celebrate the birth of the King of Kings.

Each year as we come into the Christmas season our communities are filled with the sights and sounds of the holiday. Decorations and lights fill our homes, offices, and retail complexes, Christmas music is playing everywhere you go, and depictions of the Christmas Story are seen mixed with the stories of Santa Claus, reindeer, The Grinch, Charlie Brown, and TV specials. There are parties to go to, presents to buy, trees to decorate,  food to prepare, cards to send, and family gatherings to plan. Amidst the holiday hubbub,  the true story of the season is often lost or drowned out by our ceaseless activity.

But the story behind the story is that the message of Christmas is still very real! This year many those we rub shoulders with every day will be miss the opportunity to celebrate the King of Kings, just like Herod did so long ago.  Amidst the familiar scenes of the holiday, don’t miss the story behind the story. Christmas is more than just angels, shepherds and wise men. God sent his one and only Son to earth as a Savior for you and I!  Merry Christmas!!