Summary: At Christmas time we need to focus upon Jesus. Many of us think we are like the angels, the shepards, Mary and Joseph but what if we are like Herod? Are our hearts too small? Is there room for Jesus in our lives this Christmas?
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Noal Atkinson
Most of us are familiar with Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The story from Dr Seuss is so popular that the word ‘Grinch’ did not exist until this story.
Now dictionary.com defines Grinch as
a person or thing that spoils or dampens the pleasure of others.
1965–70; from the Grinch, name of a character created by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) dictionary.com
It’s a Christmas Classic that has been enjoyed by millions of people.
Show clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJhNidkT-3U
Do you know why the Grinch hated Christmas so much?
According to the story, it was because his heart was too small! I hope and pray that none of us would have a heart that is too small. Instead, as Christians we need to ask ourselves, “Is my heart growing larger as I mature in Christ?” Prov. 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
This morning, I want us to look at a real life Grinch. His name was King Herod and like the Grinch, he hated Christmas. The reason he hated Christmas was that he had a shriveled heart.
Let us read MATTHEW 2:1-23
As we look at the original Grinch, there is a temptation for us to see Herod as someone completely different from us. He’s the bad guy, we’re the good guys. We tend look at the story of Christmas from the perspective of Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, but we never imagine ourselves in Herod’s shoes.
While our actions may not be as bad as his, let’s try to identify with his Grinch-like tendencies. After all, Herod started out as an innocent baby. But somewhere along the way, as he grew up and his heart started shrinking until it was several sizes too small.
Professor Fred Craddock from Emory University points out that Matthew gives us five pictures of King Herod in Matthew Chapter. 2.
Picture #1: A DISTURBED KING
Picture #2: A DECEITFUL KING
Picture #3: A DECEIVED KING
Picture #4: A VENGEFUL KING
Picture #5: A DEAD KING
Picture #1: A DISTURBED KING
The Grinch was disturbed that the people in Who-ville were having a good time on Christmas. Herod was disturbed by Jesus because he saw him as a threat to his kingdom. It disturbed him that there might be another king of the Jews.
We might wonder how on earth a little child, born in a lowly stable in Bethlehem, could pose such a threat to King Herod. Well, it appears that when we live for ourselves, we lose perspective and reason, then our heart shrinks and we become disturbed. Herod was disturbed by Jesus because he saw him as a threat to his kingdom.
What about us? Are we disturbed by Jesus because he might upset our kingdom? We might have to change the way that we live. We say to ourselves, I am a good guy, I love my friends and try to do good deeds.
Now, to be fair, there were some positive things about Herod’s rule. He financed an extensive building program. He built roads and beautiful palaces. He even financed the rebuilding of the Temple and made it one of the wonders of the 1st century.
Herod was very wealthy and at times could be generous. He once melted down his own gold plates to feed starving people during a famine. He had given the Jewish people significant tax cuts two different times.
The human spirit is your specifically human dimension and contains abilities other creatures do not have. Every human is spiritual; in fact, spirit is the essence of being human. You have a body that may become ill; you have a psyche that may become disturbed. But the spirit is what you are. It is your healthy core.
1909 - 1999 Austrian born Professor
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’ When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” Matthew 2:1-3
When Herod learns from the Magi that a new king has been born, he is disturbed. Actually calling Herod “disturbed” is putting it mildly. He was sick in his mind and in his soul.
Here’s a little history that might better explain what I mean. Herod ruled over Palestine for forty years and for the most part he managed to keep the peace - usually because he threatened everyone!
Herod was insanely paranoid. Right after he took the throne, he had the entire Jewish Sanhedrin, seventy of the most influential religious leaders in Jerusalem, put to death. And he didn’t stop there.