Summary: A disturbed and deceitful king who called both death and darkness "good" could not prevail against the Lord’s Anointed.
Sermon Series: THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ….
Title: “The Gospel According to Herod.”
Text: Matthew 2:1-18
A. From August 1975 thru July 1988 our family lived in Orange County, Indiana.
1. Once and soon again to be the gambling center of the Hoosier state, Orange County was then stuck in a malaise of poverty.
2. This was evidenced to many visitors by our waste collection service. Rather than setting trash containers next to the road once a week, we hauled everything to collection points scattered across the county.
3. The most popular collection point for us was affectionately called the Mini-Mall. Often when you brought your trash you would see people scavenging through the large bins for repairable furniture, electronics, and usable clothing …
4. Proving the observation that “one man’s junk is another man’s jewel.”
B. Our word, gospel, is a contraction of the Middle English expression good spell. It means a good story, and appropriately translates the Greek word euangelion [or good news].
1. How to define good news is the dilemma we face with today’s message.
2. Our sermon is entitled “The Gospel According to Herod.”
3. Herod the Great ruled Judea for almost 40 years, becoming king after the poisoning of his father, and subsequent marriage to the Hasmonean princess Mariamne.
4. A tax-collector was the alleged murderer of Herod’s father. But knowing his later history, I cannot escape wondering who, if not Herod, was really behind it.
5. This is the Herod who lavishly expanded the temple beginning in 19 B.C. [a task that was not completed until shortly before its destruction by the Roman Titus in A.D. 70.]
C. As the Herod of our text, this king was not above …
1. Taxing the common people to pay for his temple and many palaces …
2. Or murdering three of his heirs … which prompted Caesar Augustus to say, “I’d rather be Herod’s sow than Herod’s son." It’s a pun the Greek: hus being pig and huios meaning son.
D. An OT prophet writes, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” [Isaiah 5:20].
1. That’s Herod! The world’s Good News is Herod’s “Bad News.” And what’s good for Herod is bad for the world.
2. This is no where more true than in our text … Matthew 2 … where we read that after Jesus was born “wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?’”
Central Idea: The Gospel according to Herod is the story of a disturbed and deceitful king who called both death and darkness “good.”
I. Herod is a Disturbed king!
A. The Bible tells us that Herod was “troubled.”
1. The arrival of the Magi agitated the king beyond what was normal [and he was normally quite agitated].
2. Fear that previously led to palace executions grabbed him again by the throat.
3. Was there an unknown heir among the Hasmoneans? Or was another of his many sons prematurely planning to replace him?
4. No king sits secure on his throne when treachery is encoded into his family DNA. And Herod’s family’s was FAR more corrupt than most.
B. The Bible also tells us that “all Jerusalem” was troubled “with him.”
1. Does it take a genius’ I.Q. to understand why all Jerusalem was “troubled”? Those in his court were all too familiar with Herod’s paranoia.
2. It is a time honored custom for Middle Eastern monarch to eliminate potential rivals. Those as recent as Saddam Hussein have carried on his tradition.
3. This explains why the priests were in such a scurry to reveal where the Christ would be born. For Herod had already arranged the “accidental” drowning of one high priest … his own brother-in-law, Aristobulus III of Judea, the true heir to the throne.
4. And what of the common people. No more that two years earlier the Prophetess Anna had spoken: “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against” [Luke 2:34].
5. There must have been many who remembered her words. And whatever she meant, it surely was bad news for some.
C. At least one commentator has noted something quite sinister in the Greek term translated “gathered.”
1. Matthew uses it repeatedly to describe the meeting of Jewish leaders that planned the death of Jesus.
2. Was their meeting with Herod a first attempt to kill him?
Transition: That was certainly Herod’s intent. After all …
II. Herod is a Deceitful king!
A. He gained his throne through a lie.
1. Born into a wealthy, influential Idumaean family … Herod considered himself Jewish, but was lying only to himself.