Summary: When ‘bumped’ or jolted or walloped, the content of who we are is laid bare.
Every story has its bad ‘guy’ it seems. Whether its Cinderella’s evil stepmother, Snow White’s jealous queen or 101 Dalmatians ‘Cruella De Vil’, the evil one plays a part that amplifies the drama. However, as we have discovered, the trend in these classics seem to be a bad ‘gal’! This morning as we consider again the Christmas Story as recorded in Matthew 2, we will look at the character of Christmas that doesn’t play the most favourable role. Not too many moms are anxious for their child to play the part of the callous innkeeper or the threatened king at a children’s rendition of this story. This morning our focus will be upon the threatened king.
Who we ‘are’ certainly is exposed in the ‘bumps’ of life. If a cereal box is dropped to the floor, we would be most surprised to see a cheesecake fall out! If a coke bottle is tapped, we would be alarmed if Tropicana Orange Juice flowed over the top and down the sides! And what would be said if you bit into what you thought was a chocolate covered decadent cookie only to discover a brussels sprout or some other unappreciated veggie? Usually when ‘bumped’ or jolted or walloped, the content of who we are is laid bare. As we take a closer look at the threatened king featured in the Christmas story of Matthew 2, we will find him this morning as a man with an:
1) Unguarded heart, with an
2) Unacceptable scheme, and finally with an
3) Unavoidable finish
Is there a message for us as we look at the life of one who is not found occupying the stall, one who has not gone with haste to worship the Christ-child, one who has not arrived bearing gifts of significant value? As we observe the ‘questionable’ character, may we see the damaging effects of enthroning ‘self’, the downward spiral of sin, and the inevitable end of the race for each of us. May the ‘reason’ for the Season, still outshine all the other characters and clamour of Christmas that we might encounter.
In Matt. 2 we begin:
“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…”
Entering the stage is King Herod…the threatened king…the man, first of all, with an:
1) Unguarded Heart
We are taught through study that “Herod the Great was a descendent of Esau and, therefore, a traditional enemy of the Jews. He was a convert to Judaism, but his conversion was perhaps politically motivated. It was toward the close of his reign that wise men from the East came in search of the king of the Jews.” (Believers Bible Commentary) Even in the commencement of our searching to understand who Herod was, we already see a glimpse of a man whose heart is not safeguarded. The ‘door’ has been swung wide open and far-reaching to any and all outside influences.
Someone has said, “If you live in a graveyard too long you stop crying when someone dies.” You grow immune to death and all it represents, when you dwell in the final resting place of the dead. You grow immune to sin and all it represents, when you allow your heart exposure to the dark shadows. Herod’s heart has become cold and hard as he settles in the place that is void of life and light.
Herod is disturbed at the news of ‘the birth of the king of the Jews’. Any king would be anxious about such a newsflash. The possibility of someone else being born for the throne brought out the royal ‘eebie jeebies’ in Herod. Dr. William Barclay, theologian and writer, teaches that people are in three categories in connection with Jesus. We are where Herod was…in a state of hostility and hatred. Fearful that Jesus would interfere with his plans and purpose and so he made effort to destroy him. Or we are where the chief priest and scribes were….indifferent. He meant absolutely nothing to them. Or we are where the wise men were… approaching Christ in worship, bringing Him finest gifts. The question worthy of personal reflection and response this morning would be ‘where do you find yourself’? Do you feel ‘one’ with the threatened king, ‘one’ with the chief priest and scribes, ‘one’ with the wise men?
Ebenezer Scrooge is a fictional character in Charles Dickens novel of 1843 entitled “A Christmas Carol”. Dr. Seuss created another with a similar distaste for Christmas in the character, the Grinch. It has been said that King Herod was the forerunner for both Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch. Long before the day the world came into contact with the selfish, hard-hearted Scrooge and the grouchy Grinch, there was one who had distanced himself from the ‘reason’ for Christmas.