7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” (Matthew 2:7-8)
Once Herod had gathered all the information together that he required, he started quietly planning. Would we have believed him when he said that he wanted to know the whereabouts of Jesus so that he could go and worship Him? I’m sure he said it as sincerely as he could muster. I would imagine that he was wanting to be believed, with no sarcasm evident in his voice.
Of course, a lot of us know from the rest of the story that this was just a cunning plan, with Herod not having a genuine intention to worship, but rather kill baby Jesus. But, the Magi didn’t know that. They only had what was in Herod’s tone of voice and his body language to go on. I wonder whether the Magi were as skilled at reading other people’s tone of voice, as Herod was at trying to hide what was going on underneath. Learning to accurately read other people is really difficult, isn’t it? We mostly just hope, possibly naïvely, that the person that we are having dialogue with is being genuine and honest. Let’s face it, the alternative to trust means that we face the uncomfortableness of doubt. Although I wonder what’s worse: doubt or deception. What do you think?
It also seems to me that Herod hadn’t understood the relevance of the star that the Magi were following. Herod says that they are to search carefully. It doesn’t appear that he has factored in the possibility that the star might guide the Magi straight to Jesus.