Herod, the Original Scrooge
If you think the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge are bad, you haven't read the story of Herod, the original Christmas bad guy. Herod was the ruler in Israel, put there by the Roman government. He was a man who got up everyday and looked in the mirror and worshipped himself. He was a man bent acquiring more power at the expense of anyone in his way. He murdered his own family, because they were a perceived threat to him. And he slaughtered thousands of baby boys, because he heard the rumor in Bethlehem that a baby was born, King Jesus. He tried to coopt the wise men in his murderous rampage.
This is one guy you don't see in an nativity scenes. I haven't received a Christmas card yet with a Herod painting. And my daugher's Fisher-Price Little People Nativity hasn't yet added the King Herod guy.
But Herod's life presents a compelling lesson for us this season. Sure, none of us are about to go to the diabolical lengths Herod did in acquiring power, but we have similarly selfish tendencies that, if not held in check could put us on the opposite side of Jesus this Christmas.
Because Herod wanted to be worshipped as God, he missed the Messiah, Jesus. He missed the incarnation of God into the world. He missed the gospel story. He mistakenly thought it was all about Herod. All about his needs, his want, his desires.
How often do we allow ourselves to become the Herods of our homes. We think Christmas is about us. We think its about satisfying ourselves with the present, the parties, and the people we like. But Christmas is not about Herod, its not about us, its about . . . Jesus.
The problem with Herod is that he couldn't see Jesus, because he could only see himself. And so it is that when we set up ourselves as self-made kings, when we push and claw and fight for power, we only end up hurting ourselves and missing out on the real story. WE also hurt a lot of people in the process.
Instead, we must copy the shepherds and the Kings of the East and Simeon and Anna. We must bow down and worship Jesus. Because Jesus is the only true King.
To read an in-depth article on Herod's role in Christmas, check out my sermon, "Herod, the Monster of Christmas".
Daniel Darling is an author, pastor, and public speaker. His latest book is Crash Course, Forming a Faith Foundation for Life. Visit him on Facebook by clicking here, follow on him on Twitter at twitter.com/dandarling, or check out his website: danieldarling.com.