Herod - How Deniers Find Jesus
Today’s message takes a somber tone. This is our third message on the subject of Finding Jesus. Today, we look at Herod who was seeking Jesus but for the wrong reason. As we know, Herod was seeking Jesus to kill him. He demonstrates for us an important theological truth taught in both Old and New Testaments- One day everyone will encounter the Lord. Those who come to him as Savior will never meet him as Judge. But all who reject him will ultimately meet him. Sadly, they will meet him as their Judge at the Great White Throne, at which point the offer of salvation will have passed.
“that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10–11, NIV)
Life’s most important decision is the decision that you make regarding Jesus Christ. One day your life will be over and it will be forever too late. This week we saw the reality of just how brief and unpredictable life can be. Marie Gemmell and her two sons, 3-year-old Cole and 1-month-old Devin died in their home when a private jet fell from the sky in Gaithersburg Md. The crash was just a few miles away from the home of Jeff and Christie Hickman.
They died of an unseen danger.
Compare these tragic deaths with the death of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. On the night of Jackie Kennedy Onassis' death, her family gathered at her bedside. The next morning, John, dressed in an impeccably tailored navy-blue suit, emerged from the lobby of 1040 Fifth Avenue. "Last night, at around ten-fifteen, my mother passed on," he said. "She was surrounded by her friends and family and her books and the people and things that she loved. And she did it in her own way, and on her own terms, and we all feel lucky for that, and now she's in God's hands." Published: "Jackie's Last Days" in READER'S DIGEST, May 2004, p. 181
But think about those words from a grief torn son. Did Jacquie O really die on her own terms? She was only 64 years old. She died of lymphoma - an unwelcome invader that pre-maturely snuffed out her life. No one dies on their own terms! If we had our own terms we would live forever free of pain an suffering!
And so we read these words regarding Herod.
“But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”” (Matthew 2:19–20, ESV)
The reality is that Herod died. From a theological point of view, Herod still has not met Jesus, although he knew the moment he died that he was separated from God. Herod will not meet Jesus until the Great White Throne Judgement described in Revelation 20. Then, Jesus will be the Judge who will sentence Herod and all who have rejected Christ.
When Will you Find Jesus?
The greatest tragedy you can every possibly experience is the tragedy of waking up in hell, separated from God and facing eternal judgment for your sin.
“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27, ESV)
“and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.” (Luke 16:23, ESV)
Our sermon series: FINDING JESUS
Herod was one of the people in the Christmas story who was LOOKING for JESUS.
Herod was SEEKING JESUS, but he only wanted to Kill him.
Did Herod ever find Jesus?
We have to turn to what the BIBLE says about Judgment to answer this question.
“WHEN HEROD DIED”
Herod did not find Jesus before he died.
His attempted deception of the wise men failed.
His murderous attempt to kill Jesus failed.
He died before Jesus began his earthly ministry.
Why did Herod fail to find Jesus when Simeon, Anna, the Shepherds and Wise Men all found him?
You Can’t Find Jesus if you Blame God for your Past.
Herod’s past was deeply troubled. He ruled at the end of the Inter-Testament period which was marked by conflict and wars. 165 BC began the Maccabeean Reign, also referred to by their family name, the Hasmonian Period.
During this 160 year time frame, there were THREE FORCES at work in the politics and governance of Israel:
1. The Hasmonian Dynasty. The historical name for the MACCABEES. Mattathias’s sons were killed in battle, with the exception of Simon, who became the first Hasmonian Ruler. His son John Hyrcanus greatly expanded Israel’s control including control of EDOM. The Edomites were forced to convert Judaism.
2. Rome. The Roman Empire was expanding. As Rome captured new territories they required them to pay taxes to Rome but were allowed to keep their customs and their religion.
3. Opportunists. From 100 BC to 40 BC Rome and Persia were battling for dominance over Israel. At the same time there was civil war. An Edomite named Antipas took advantage of civil war between two Hasmonean brothers. Antipas had 2 sons, Phasael and Herod. Phasael was captured by the Persians. He committed suicide while in prison. Herod barely escaped with his family and fled to Rome for protection. The Romans claim Israel as theirs and make Herod King. Herod fought with the Persians for the first 3 years of his kingdom. He was hated by the Jews and the Persians.
Herod claimed the Jewish religion, but also built pagan temples. Herod is ambitious but fearful. His father and brother died at the hands of others. He has power but is hated by those under him. He is liked by Rome.
What about your past?
All of us have events in our past that we prefer to keep undisclosed. Perhaps it is something that you have done. Often it is some pain that we bear from being mistreated by someone else. Whatever dysfunction you may have in your family, I can assure you it was worse in Herod’s family.
Herod MURDERED the entire line of Hasmonean descendants including:
His wife Mariamne
5 days before his death Herod had his oldest son Antipater.
Killing the baby boys of Bethlehem was one of many horrible things that Herod did out of fear.
You cannot Find Jesus when you are King of your own life.
God will not share his throne with you.
You must give him rule over your life.
HEROD thought he was a god!
His Accomplishments included
Made alliance with Rome
Herod was a great builder! Israel did not have a good harbor for Mediterranean ships coming from all of the Roman Empire. So Herod built his own man-made harbor and a great coastal city and palace. He named it after Caesar and called it Caesarea Maritima.
HE also built Massada. This was a mountaintop fortress in the area of the Dead Sea which Herod fortified in case he needed to escape from the Romans or Persians. The fortress was nearly impenetrable and had multiple palaces and food storage rooms the size of freight train cars. Massada contained cisterns with millions of gallons of fresh water fed by an aqueduct system bringing water from the mountains.
But Herod’s greatest building achievement was what took place in Jerusalem. He vastly expanded the Temple and created a man-made mountain that was 90 acres on top. Known as the Temple Mount, this is still the most visible part of the Jerusalem landscape.
What about you?
Do you take great pride in your accomplishments? What are you trusting in? Know that the Lord will not share his glory with you. If you think that are too significant or too educated to trust Christ, God has a way of humbling you!
“I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.” (Isaiah 42:8, NIV)
You Cannot Find Jesus When you think that you have everything under control.
Herod saw Jesus as a THREAT to his POWER
Herod had a plan for EVERY THREAT.
He built Massada as an escape fortress
He fortified his house in Jerusalem with guards and defenses. He killed off his enemies. But he couldn’t stop death!
What about you?
Do you think that you have everything under control in your life?
It is an illusion! This can be illustrated by our attitude toward insurance. We have all kinds of insurance: Life, health, dental, eye, auto, homeowners, disability, long term care... Health insurance can provide money, but it cannot make you well! Life insurance only pays money to others after you are DEAD.
When did Herod find Jesus?
“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27, NIV)
Every knee will bow. “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10–11, NIV)
Every eye will see him. ““Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.” (Revelation 1:7, NIV)
“See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?” (Hebrews 12:25, NIV)
You don’t have to kill baby Jesus to end up in hell. You just have to reject him. “Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev 20:14–15)
You can postpone your appointment with Jesus, but not indefinitely.
Your control over your life is an illusion that will eventually fade.
Find Jesus now.
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6–7, NIV)