Summary: Within people there is a desire for meaning in life. This is a sermon for those who are searching.
Introduction . . .
Illustration: Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Years ago, Dr. Seuss wrote a book called "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." It’s also been made into a video. Many of you know the story
which happens in the town of Who-ville. The Grinch hated seeing and hearing
all the people celebrating Christmas – so he tries to figure out a way to stop Christmas from coming to Who-ville.
He decides that if he steals all the presents, decorations and special
Christmas food then he will stop Christmas from coming. He spends the whole
night before Christmas sneaking around and stealing everything Christmassy
from all the houses in Who-ville. When Christmas morning comes the Grinch is shocked that his plan didn’t work – Christmas still comes to Who-ville. The
people are still happy and they gather hand in hand to sing Christmas songs.
He learns that Christmas is more than just presents and decorations.
In Matthew 2:1-12 we see a Grinch. This is the story of the Magi finding the Christ-child.
Read Matthew 2:1-12.
The Characters…Let’s zoom in on these characters a little more closely.
Illustration: 3 Wise Women
Do you know what would have happened
If it had been Three Wise Women
Instead of Three Wise Men?
They would have asked for directions,
Arrived on time,
Helped deliver the baby,
Cleaned the stable,
Made a casserole,
Brought practical gifts and
There would be Peace On Earth.
· We don’t know how many wise men there were. We assume three because there were three gifts.
· Men of Science – Astronomers
· Highly educated
· Highly respected in their Gentile Culture
· Upper Class Citizens
· Not particularly prone to faith in Jewish religion being Gentiles.
· Virtually the exact opposite of the shepherds
· Seekers after the truth; visionaries; spiritual
Herod – The king in Judea
· Herod the Great reigned from 37-4 BC. He was a non-Jew, an Idumean who was appointed by the Roman Senate. He was ruthless, murdering his wife, his three sons, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle and many others. No wonder he had no problem killing so many babies in Bethlehem. His reign was noted for splendor. He constructed many theaters, amphitheaters, monuments, pagan altars, and fortresses. His greatest work was the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, begun in 20 BC and totally completed in 64 A.D. It was destroyed by the Romans 6 years later (in 70 AD.).
· Choleric; power hungry; self-absorbed; ruthless
Chief Priests and Teachers of the Law
· Trained and educated in the details of scripture, but spiritually ignorant.
Jesus – The real King of the Jews
In this story we see some conflicts taking place.
Between Herod and the Magi – Herod tried to mask the conflict, but in reality he was at odds with them. In fact, his true colors came out when they didn’t go back and tell him where the Messiah was.
Between Herod and Jesus – Jesus was a threat to Herod. Jesus was the Messiah, the True King of the Jews. Herod was an imposter. He was not entitled to the throne by heritage or divine choice.
There is an obvious conflict between these two. The King of the Jews was to be God’s representative, like God, and in the line of David (both spiritually and physically). Herod is the antithesis of God – devaluing life, pagan, murderous, self-centered, etc.
Herod is a Grinch-like Character, who seems to be in conflict with everyone around him.
(Incidentally, I see the Chief Priests and Teachers of the Law kind of like the Grinch’s dog.)
There is another Grinch-like character in this story – it is sin. Keep this in the back of your mind.
So, which one is the real Grinch?
Let’s go back to the story and join the journey of these characters. And, to help us identify the real Grinch we have to look at their motivations. All of these characters were on a journey. They were all seeking for meaning in life, for something outside of themselves that helps put life in context. They were searching for something more than they had. This desire was motivating them to do what they did. All of the characters were searching for meaning.
This is a picture of people today. Within people there is a desire for meaning in life. There is a natural (God-given) quest to seek for something of substance outside of our selves. There is a battle between this God-given drive and the self-centered nature in all of us.
Notice how the characters dealt with this search for meaning and substance in life.
· Believed that the self was to be the focal point of life.
· Put yourself first – no one else will put you first.