Summary: A sermon for Epiphany.
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN
I remember my mother telling me of a traumatic childhood experience when she felt that she had just “fallen from her throne.”
She remembers where she was and the thoughts and feelings that went through her head and heart.
It’s hard to imagine she could remember something from such an early age, but I suppose it goes to show just how fragile we humans really can be.
It’s so hard for us to lose our place at the center of power and privilege, and that is just what my mother felt was happening to her, when her brother, my Uncle Jack was born.
So traumatic was that birth that my mother still remembers it, 83 years later--although she was only 11 months old at the time it occurred.
Just about the time Jesus was born, there was a strange feeling in the world…
…of the coming of a king.
It was in the air.
The Holy Spirit was moving in mighty ways.
God was about to break into this world!!!
Even the Roman historians felt the vibes and wrote about them.
So when Herod found out that wise men had come from the East, and that they were searching for the little child who had been born to be King of the Jews…
…any king would have been worried, but Herod was doubly distraught.
See, Herod had a heavy duty flaw in his character.
He was insanely suspicious…
…and the older he got, the worse he became.
He was, as someone said, “a murderous old man.”
If he thought anyone might be a rival to his power, that person was immediately killed.
He murdered his wife and her brother.
He killed his oldest son, and two other sons.
Augustus, the Roman Emperor, had said bitterly: “It’s safer to be Herod’s pig than Herod’s son.”
So, how would such a guy feel when news got to him that a child was born who was destined to be King?
“Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and make a careful search for the child…’”
He said he wanted to be able to go and worship Christ, but of course, he was determined to kill the One Who might dethrone him.
The birth of God into the world set off a firestorm of political dynamite!!!
Herod was afraid that this little child was going to interfere with his life, his place, his power and his influence, and therefore his first instinct was to destroy him!!!
There are still those who might gladly destroy Jesus Christ because they see in Him the One Who interferes with their lives…One who threatens to “dethrone them.”
For in order to truly follow Christ, we must die with Christ.
Of course, in dying with Christ, we are raised to new life with Christ.
We willingly move our fannies off our thrones to allow Jesus Christ; the true King; to take the reigns.
And there is nothing more exciting!
But at the same time, there is nothing more intimidating!!!
To give up control of our own lives is a scary thing.
To “sell all we have” in order to follow Christ takes humility…
…a certain maturity…
…an altruism which is the beginning of all wisdom, and Life—REAL Life where we are REALLY LIVING!!!!
There is nothing more wise; nothing more REAL; nothing more Human than to “die to self and live for God and others.”
There is nothing else which will bring us peace, happiness, and great satisfaction.
Of course, it also goes against our greatest instincts.
We humans have a great survival instinct…which has gotten us far, but which has gotten us into much trouble as well.
And Herod wanted to survive!!!
And this is the clash that shakes all of our history!!!
Herod had money and magnificence; Christ was born in a manger.
Herod was big and strong; Christ was a helpless baby.
Herod had power and used it in cruel ways; Christ had compassion and mercy, humility and love.
Herod was Great in the eyes of the world—Christ was seemingly weak but actually Divine—for Whom and through Whom all things are Created!!!
Herod tried to cut down others for the sake of self; Jesus Christ let Himself be cut down for the sake of others!!!
God’s ways are not our ways…
…our ways are flawed and lead to hurt, pain, evil intent, and ultimate destruction.
We are a fallen, broken and incomplete people.
Therefore we must Trust in Christ as our Guide!!!
We must allow God to sit on the throne of our lives.
We must set self aside, and allow Christ to be in control!!!