Summary: This is the story of King Herod and his role in the early life of Jesus.
The Monster at Christmas
Characters of Christmas Series – Message Three – 2009
Gages Lake Bible Church
Sunday, December 20th, 2009
Pastor Daniel Darling
I’m delighted to preach another message in my series, The Characters of Christmas. This year we have been studying the Gospel of John, then we did a side-tour into a series “Why We Believe What We Believe” (which we will resume in January).
But for the month of December, while the entire world is focused on Christmas, we like to draw our attention back to the season and the real story behind Christmas.
So far, this year and last year, we have profiled in this series:
The Wise Men
Simeon and Anna
Today we share a profile of the most infamous character of Christmas: King Herod. The title of my message today is: The Monster of Christmas
About a month ago, my wife and I were treated to a fantastic production of Charles Dickens’, A Christmas Carol at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire.
It was an incredible production, one that my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed. It reminded me of a consistent theme in most Christmas stories, from classics to present day.
My wife and are fans of the Hallmark Channel. (Actually I’m a fan of ESPN and she’s a fan of the Wedding Channels. So the Hallmark Channel is usually where we land—it’s kind of a compromise).
And we’ve watched several of their Christmas specials and almost always they have a similar theme. Everyone in town wants it to be a wonderful Christmas for a family or a person, but something or someone stands in the way.
It might be an evil corporate developer who wants to put the mom and pop restaurant out of business. It might be an illness or poverty that keeps Christmas from being special. It might be the barriers to a romance between two people under the mistletoe.
But there is always a nemesis of Christmas.
The Bible’s Christmas Monster
It’s interesting that we’ve told Christmas this way for centuries, dating back to Dickens’ tale of Ebenezer Scrooge.
It’s interesting because the original Christmas story has its own monster in the form of a man named Herod. Now, Herod is a man not usually included in many Christmas stories, even when people discuss the Biblical narrative.
I don’t think any nativity sets include a Herod figure. At least my daughter’s Fisher Price Little People set didn’t include a King Herod. Maybe that’s coming out in next year’s model.
But if you read Matthew’s account of the Christmas story, you’ll see that Herod emerges as the original Christmas villain who threatens the very heart of this season.
Today we’ll break new ground and profile this man and his place in the Christmas story. I think his place offers us a glimpse of the nature of evil and a reaffirmation of the Sovereign Hand of God on His plan of redemption.
Back to the Garden
To fully understand what is happening in Matthew’s Gospel, you have to leave the troubled streets of Jerusalem and the quiet town of Bethlehem and travel back thousands of years in history and hundreds of pages in your Bible.
Because the characters in this story of Christmas are merely pawns in a larger struggle. Paul writes in Ephesians:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)
At the heart of the incarnation, the story of God reaching down to become flesh, is the cosmic struggle between God and his archenemy, Satan.
In Isaiah we read of the epic fall of Lucifer, once God’s prized angel, the leader of the chorus of Heaven:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Isaiah 14:12-14 (KJV)
From that moment on, Satan and his legion of angels have had one singular mission: to thwart God’s plans.
Satan’s first salvo comes in the opening pages of the Scripture, not long after God created man and placed him in the beauty and perfection of the Garden of Eden. Satan, inhabiting a snake, tempts Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit.
This brought sin into the world and death by sin (Romans 5:12).
But Satan’s attack on God didn’t surprise the Godhead, for God had a plan to show His glory be redeeming his prized creation, mankind. We see this in His words to Adam and Eve: