Summary: In Matthew 2:13-23, we see the Christmas story through the lens of Herod the Great. In this passage we learn that when Jesus was born, hope entered our world!
I hope you all had a very merry Christmas. And I’m sure most if you did.
• But maybe some of you didn’t.
• Maybe the much-sung words of "have a Holly jolly Christmas" wouldn't describe this time of year for you.
• Maybe you wouldn’t describe this season as “merry” and “bright.”
• For the Carlson family, it was challenging to experience the joy of the season.
• My sister had back surgery and a couple scares with complications following the surgery.
• Our 5-year-old Olivia had pneumonia that had to be treated with round the clock nebulizer treatments.
• I caught bronchitis.
• Then my wife, Laura, was sick for almost two weeks—eating no more than a couple hundred calories a day, in excruciating pain. Though we never really figured out what she had contracted, whatever viral infection she had ended up turning to her gallbladder, so she ended up having that removed last week.
• And now the flu is making its way around our house.
• So much for a "Holly jolly" Christmas!
And I'd bet that what I experienced the past month is nothing compared what some of you are going through.
• Maybe your Christmas season has been one of loneliness—the time of year when you miss those loved ones you've lost.
• Maybe it’s been a season of stress in your family, or strife in your marriage.
• Maybe you're dealing with a severe illness that has you and your family exhausted and weary.
• Maybe you feel like you’re entering the new year overwhelmed—trying to balance the demands of family, work, and finances, but you just keep getting hit with one thing after the other after the other. And you just can't seem to catch a break.
The reality is that not everyone is having a "holly jolly" season.
• This probably isn’t what you thought you’d hear walking into church this morning.
• But did you know that the birth of Jesus wasn’t all “good news of great joy” for everyone?
• The fact is that the birth of Jesus involved both joy and sorrow.
• And Jesus came, not only to give us joy, but to give us peace and hope in the midst of our sorrows.
• To really appreciate and understand this peace and hope that came with the birth of Jesus, we need to look at one final character in the Christmas story.
And, so, today we come to the last week of our Christmas series, “Witnesses of Wonder.”
• The past month, we’ve witnessed the birth of Christ through the eyes of Mary, through the experience of Joseph, through the life-changing encounter of the Shepherds, and through the journey of the wise men—all people who celebrated the birth of the Messiah.
• But today, we will witness the birth of King Jesus through the lens of another king—a jealous king; a murderer-king—A man known as Herod the Great.
• We were introduced to Herod last week as we looked at the beginning of Matthew chapter 2, where we saw just how threatened this savvy politician really was.
Listen as I read to you Matthew 2:1-12
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:
6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 8 Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
9 After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.