Summary: Part 2 of our Advent Consiracy series, comparing and contrasting King Herod, the Wise Men, and how they parellel our lives today.
Stephen N. Collins
Millville - 12/07/08
Part 2: Worship More, Spend Less
Icebreaker: After assessing the cost of Christmas presents during the economic downturn, Larry called for a family meeting. He lined up his children and explained, "It’s too late to make adjustments for this Christmas, but it would really help us out financially if you kids could be bad this next year." Houston Chronicle, 1/8/7, p.E9
Intro: Nothing wrong with presents, but when we put such an emphasis on the “stuff” of Christmas, we’ll always end up disappointed.
-Ultimately you have to make the choice of what Christmas is going to mean for you this year.
-You’ve all probably heard the terrible story out of New York about the Wal-Mart greeter who was trampled to death this past Black Friday. Is this really what we’ve turned Christmas into? Is this really what we want out of this time of year?
-We get shocked when we hear stories like this one, but it’s nothing new. You know what’s really makes us uncomfortable in stories like that one? It’s that we can see ourselves in it. We can see the part of us that was in those people who trampled over that poor Wal-Mart greeter to get a great deal on a TV set. Because we’ve all fallen prey to the temptation of greed and consumerism before. And while we’d like to think that we’d never be capable of such a terrible thing, the fact is…the same frame of mind has taken root in many of us, this morning.
-It’s not anything new. It’s been around for a long time. Did you know there was a tragedy that happened that was far, far worse than the one in New York? We’re going to read the news clipping from it this morning and examine the root cause of it. And this morning, I pray that you’ll see any root of this that might be ingrained in your heart today…and that you’ll make the decision today to snuff it out.
-We’ve made sure today that you’ve actually got the news clipping of this tragedy in front of you so we can read it together. It’s in Matthew chapter 2. Let’s read it today. (Read Matthew 2:1-18)
-You know, in every tragedy there are heroes that come from the most unlikely places. So today, we’re going to compare and contrast the villain of this news story and the heroes.
3 Kings Who “Got It” and One King Who Didn’t
Let’s look at the King who didn’t get it, first.
Kingdom of Herod
1. Interested in Appearances
Statement: Herod was a ruler who was always building new palaces and continually erecting more impressive structures. Fountains, gardens, sculptures, you name it, Herod built it. But his motive wasn’t to better society. His motive was to display his own grandeur. Herod wanted his citizens and everyone in every country everywhere to know his power. He wanted people for generations to come to know his legacy. So you can imagine how his ego was challenged a little bit when news came to him of a the birth of a new king in the land.
-If what these Magi were telling him was true, then the attention of his people could be shifted away from his splendor to this new king. Even though the new king was just a baby, Herod felt that his magnificence was being threatened. I mean, what if people started building buildings or statues in this new king’s honor? What if the new king demanded that people pay taxes to him, too? What if this new king’s palace was bigger than Herod’s? Herod could never stand for something like that!
2.Interested in Self-Preservation
-Another reason Herod didn’t “get it” when it came to this new king is because He interested in Self-preservation. Herod was a notoriously ruthless ruler. History records how he would routinely kill anyone and everyone he felt might be threat to his throne. He would rather just kill you than investigate whether or not you were really a threat. He was so paranoid about keeping his throne that he would not hesitate to have his own family member murdered in cold blood by some of his henchmen. And you thought Scrooge didn’t have any Christmas spirit!
-So you can imagine how much it must have shaken him up to hear of a new king who was born somewhere in the West. And in his warped mind, he devised that instead of trying to forge an alliance with this new king, he would get rid of him while he was at his weakest…while he was just an infant. Hey, life’s not fair. As long as it didn’t hurt King Herod, what did he care?
3.Interested in Self-Rule
-This was really reflective of another problem Herod had. He was only interested in Self-rule. He was king, no one else. It was tough luck for the kid, but Herod was looking out for numero uno. And get this: he even called in all the chief Jewish priests who knew about the ancient prophecy and asked for their council. But instead of really listening to what they were telling him, Herod was just looking for how he could advance his own interests. Instead of seeing these Magi who came to him as intelligent and powerful men in their own right, he saw them as pawns he could use to do his dirty work.