Summary: You never seem to hear about people saying they are afraid of Jesus but truth is not only were people afraid of Jesus when he was born but millions are still afraid of him today.
Jesus. What Child is This?
Part 1- Many Are Afraid- Herod’s Fear
One of the most interesting emotions I think humans experience is fear. It’s an emotion that goes up and down all the time. Sometimes we love it and look for it (movies, roller coasters, extreme sports) and sometimes we hate it and run from it. All of us are afraid of something. We might try to act tough but I have no doubt you have a fear of something. In fact what I did is brought some pictures to share of things that I think many people and maybe even many of you are afraid of. I want to share those with you really quick.
FEAR PICS- 1. Snakes, 2. Mice, 3. Spiders, 4. Clowns, 5. Pastor Jeff- On a more serious note there are some legitimate fears. Fear of the recession, fear of death, fear of end times. Endless amounts of things for you and I to fear. But let me ask you something. Do you know anyone that is afraid of Jesus? You’ve probably heard many people mock Jesus, use his name in vain, call him a good teacher but probably haven’t heard many say they are afraid of Jesus. We’ve seen people fear God. There is a fear that God will curse them, destroy them, cause harm to them. James 2:19 says that God makes demons themselves tremble in fear of Him, but you don’t hear that about Jesus.
Well the truth is people do fear Jesus. They feared him in the bible and there are millions who fear him today. But they fear him for all the wrong reasons. They fear him because they very simply do not truly understand who He is or why He came to the earth to begin with. Many think Jesus will only lead them down a path that will ruin their lives. They watch many “believers” who do such a terrible job of modeling Christ and teaching what the true Gospel is about that they tend to lump all Christians into their negative opinions that have been formed by observing a few bad witnesses. But they also fear the reality that they will face if they choose to come to grips with who Christ is and what He wants to do in their life. I want to look at why people feared Jesus when he was born and why many fear him today. Matthew 2:1-18.
VERSE 1-2: Right away we see the fulfilling of a prophecy about the messiah. Numbers 24:17 is Balaam’s prophecy which says, “I see him, but not here and now. I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel…” This verse was understood by Jews to point to a messianic savior. The movement of the star itself suggest that this star was not a natural phenomenon but a supernatural one. It may have been a guiding angel that appeared as a star or some divinely created phenomenon that had the brightness of the star. Whatever it was this is a prophecy we are seeing come to pass that all Jews who read the scriptures would have understood. Now one other quick note is that these wise men didn’t travel a few days and they didn’t travel alone. They would have had a large number of attendants with them and their trip would have taken them up to two years. We know that because we’ll see in a second that Herod ask the wise men when the star first appeared and then later when Jesus and his family escape to Egypt Herod has all boys 2 years and under killed. So that tells us that from the star’s first appearance to the time Herod has the children killed it was close to if not 2 years. So when they visited Jesus he would have been out of the manger and living in a house not as a baby but as a toddler.
These are men who are on a mission who believe that the Christ has been born. This is where we see Herod get scared. VERSE 3-8- Verse 3 is key, “King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this as was everyone in Jerusalem.” Why? Why was Herod the Great so afraid that the Jewish prophecy of a coming Messiah is coming to pass? 4 reasons…
1. Not the rightful heir. Herod is afraid because there is a new king in town and Herod was THE KING. He ruled over all four political districts of Palestine and was very popular with the Jews because even though he was known as a ruthless person who murdered many including people in his own family he also supervised the renovation of the temple, making it much larger and more beautiful, as well as overseeing many other building projects in Jerusalem. All of that is well and good but Herod knew that according to the Jewish prophecies he wasn’t the rightful heir to be the true king of the Jews and he was no doubt feeling threatened by this child. The rightful heir would come from the line of Jacob and David. Herod descended from the line of Esau. Also Herod was only partly Jewish and was really only considered Jewish by religion. And he reigned by appointment from Rome rather than being anointed by God. If this baby was a rightful heir to the throne of Israel, Herod could face trouble from the Jews who might want to declare this baby their new king.