Sermon Summary, 1/7/18, “The World Sees Its Savior” (Matthew 2)
The Herods have always fascinated me. I was a teenager when the movie “Salome” came out. Fascinating. In my 40s I found a book with a long narrative about Herod and his family tree. He was paranoid and viscous, killing his favorite wife Marriamne and her two sons fearing they had a claim on his throne.
Yet we love Christmas stories, don’t we? What then do we do with the “slaughter of the innocents”? I mean, where does it fit into the tranquility of the angels and the shepherds and the baby Jesus? If we had our choice we would end the narrative where Mary and Joseph and the baby escape to Egypt. But the Bible doesn’t. What are we to take away? What does it teach us about God? About us? About the relationship between God and us?
First, the Wise Men, astrologers, learned men from Persia. Gentiles who knew the Jewish prophesies of the star and the Messiah. Gentiles who represented the “world.” Jesus, the Savior, introduced to the world. The world sees its Savior. We call it “Epiphany.”
Herod. Viscous, paranoid. No wonder “all of Jerusalem was frightened with him.” He also looked for approval and became the greatest builder of his time, building cities to gain approval of Rome and the Temple to gain the approval of the Jewish people. But he was mostly great because of the great fear he instilled in his people.
What does the story tell us about God? It is a theme of the bible that God created us to love and to love him in return. In the OT he pursued the children of Israel but they ran from him. Now there is a new kind of pursuit. He has become like us. He has become the Savior of the World.
About us. If the baby Jesus is the counterpart of God in the story, then Herod is our counterpart. Whoa you say. I’m not evil like Herodl There is no Herod in me. But the Bible teaches us from Cain and Abel to the Pharisees and Sadducees that handed Jesus over to be murdered that there is evil in each one of us. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn says “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” We seek power, we seek control, we let pride and arrogance steer our actions. Evil slips out. When power and pride and fear control our personality, that line dividing good and evil, if left unguarded, evil wins out. We become “Little Herods.”
We need a Savior. That’s the relationship between God and us. And we have a Savior. When we imitate him, when we take on the humility of Christ, we become “Little Christs,” and the Little Herod within us is overwhelmed.
We have a Savior that was reveled to the world through the Wise Men. Let us imitate him. Let us become “Little Christs.” Amen.