Summary: Herod was the original Grinch. Let’s examine his heart so we can examine our own.
SERIES: CHRISTMAS CLASSICS
(adapted from a series from Southeast Christian Church)
“HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS”
Song – “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”
Most of us are familiar with Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It’s a Christmas Classic that has been enjoyed by millions of people. Everyone in Whoville loved Christmas. Everyone, that is, except the Grinch.
The Grinch hated Christmas and made up a plan to spoil the joy of Christmas in Whoville. His plan was to dress up as Santa Claus and go into Who-ville and steal all of their Christmas presents, all of their Christmas trees, and even the food for their Christmas dinners.
Do you know why the Grinch hated Christmas so much? Film Clip: “The Grinch hated Christmas, the whole Christmas season. Now please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason. It could be that perhaps his shoes were too tight. It could be that his head wasn’t screwed on just right. But I think that the most likely reason of all may have been that his heart was two sizes too small.”
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.
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.
I want us to try hard today to not look at Herod as just “the Grinch” in the first Christmas story. 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, his conscience was seared and his heart started shrinking until it was several sizes too small.
Fred Craddock is a preacher and teacher of preachers that I greatly admire. He points out that Matthew gives us five pictures of King Herod in Matthew Chapt. 2. Let’s look together at these five pictures so that we can avoid the problem of shrinkage of the heart
Picture #1: A DISTURBED KING
Mt. 2:1-3 – “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.”
When Herod learns from the Magi that a new king has been born, he is disturbed. Actually calling Herod “disturbed” is putting it mildly. Herod was wicked and evil. 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.
During the course of his reign he had his two oldest sons killed because he saw them as threats to his throne.
He killed his wife Mariamne, even though she was the favorite of his dozen or so wives, because he thought she was conspiring against him with one of his sons. He also killed her brother, her mother, and her uncle.
After Herod had killed his sons, Augustus Caesar commented that it would be better to be Herod’s pig than to be Herod’s son. Herod was part Jewish and wouldn’t eat pork. He wouldn’t slaughter a pig but he didn’t have any problem killing members of his family to keep his power.
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. But for the most part Herod was an egotistical and power-hungry leader.