Sermon Illustrations

Just this past Thursday we learned the results of what is being called the "Mitchell" report. For those of us who are baseball fans it was a pretty dark day. Former Senator George Mitchell concluded his almost two year investigation into the game and released his conclusions and one of those conclusions was that steroids have become a big problem in the game of baseball. Now, for most of us who have been following the sport for the past couple of years that was no big shocker but...what did come as a surprise was some of the names mentioned in connection with that investigation. Some came as no surprise...they were names that had been mentioned already in this scandal and I won’t repeat them here because I try to use this pulpit as an opportunity to build up and not tear down....but, all the same....some of these names were familiar and had been linked before...but others had not even been mentioned. Shocking names...some of the best in the world...players who without these performance-enhancing steroids...would have easily been Hall of Famers...but it wasn’t enough...they had to go even further. It is awfully funny what competition will do to you.

Let’s take this a little further and look at an example where someone not only attempted to get an advantage over the competition but tried to eliminate them all together...who here remembers the names of Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding? Sure...most of us do....but I guarantee you that very few of us would know those names today had it not been for the events of January 6, 1994. For those of you who don’t remember let me briefly remind you of who these two ladies were....they were both figure skaters...and they were both competing to be the top figure skater in America at that time. They were also both competing for a spot on the 1994 Olympic team. On January 6 of that year Kerrigan was attacked....hit in the leg with a an attempt to knock her out of the competition. Investigation led to the arrests of more than one include Harding’s ex-husband. She later pled guilty to obstructing the investigation...and the reason that I mention her name is because she has already mentioned some culpability...the names in the Mitchell report are still only accusations. Harding has maintained that she had nothing to do with planning the attack contrary to the statements of other alleged conspirators...but here is the point. Regardless if Harding had anything to do with of her supporters...whether it be her ex-husband or her bodyguard...saw Nancy Kerrigan as competition and sought to eliminate that competition....they didn’t just seek an unfair advantage but instead looked to totally get rid of the opposition.

We are continuing our look at the birth of Christ through the different eyes that played a role in this event...and if you haven’t figured it out already today we are going to step into the shoes of King Herod. I want you to get your Bibles out and turn over to Matthew 2.

As you are turning let me give you just a little bit of background information on this guy we call King Herod. He was born around 70 B.C. and he lived until 3 B.C...the dating of his death we are fairly certain about. That means that Jesus was actually born B.C...goes to show you that our dating is not always correct. He saw his father poisoned for his presumed role in the plot to kill Julius Caesar...and was later able to convince the Roman officials that his father had been forced to assist in the assassination. Until 37 B.C. he was subjected to a roller coaster ride of being in power and then losing it...but in 37 B.C. he was given the title "King of the Jews" and placed in charge of Judea. His background of seeing his father poisoned and the seemingly endless revolts against Rome caused him to be extra protective of his throne. The slightest indication of revolt or unrest was met with swift retribution...and the slightest indication of a threat to his throne...even by his relatives....was met with this same swift retribution. He had his own sons executed when he suspected them of plotting against fact...Caesar Augustus is said to have commented "I’d rather by Herod’s sow than be Herod’s son." So....this wasn’t a very nice guy that we are talking about today...