#2   (Christmas Series)

TEXTS:     Matt. 2:1-23


We all come into this world thinking we are the masters of our own lives. As we grow up we quickly discover however that there are powers over us that we must learn to submit to if we want a decent quality of life. The question of our eternal life is decided by a similar process discovering that there is a greater power than ourselves, and whether we will submit to God or decide that we will continue being our own god. Only a fool chooses to be his own god, or to choose another human being or some part of creation to be their god. ILLUS:I keep telling Shirley MacLaine, "You can't go around telling people you are God." It's a very difficult concept to accept. -- Ophrah Winfrey in the New York Times Magazine (June 11, 1989). Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 12. The reality of Christ coming into this world forces us to deal with an important issue, will we accept our King or reject His kingship and usurp His place as ruler over our lives by insisting that we alone are kings! PROP. SENT:     The Bible teaches us that we must make a choice about Christ as king, we will submit to Him or place ourselves on the throne with disastrous results when we choose to be our own king!

I. THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING!       2:1-18

A. Promise     2:1-2 1. Herod had been appointed ruler over Judea in 40 BC a. However, he was not happy to be just "ruler," he requested from Rome the official title "KING OF THE JEWS" which was granted by Rome. b. Being that he had almost no Jewish blood in him this made the Jewish inhabitants angry and they revolted against him. c. It took 3 years to put down the revolt and it wasn't until 37 BC that Herod finally had control of the territory and the title "KING OF THE JEWS." 2. Herod was not one to submit to anyone! a. In his arrogance and pride he set himself up as the absolute ruler. b. His passion to be in control was so great that he had many of his own family members killed in order to keep control: (1. He killed his own wife, 3 sons, his mother in law, his brother in law, an Uncle, and many other family members over a period of years. (2. NO ONE was allowed to rule but him! (3. This is precisely the nature of sin, that we rule and no one tells us what to do! 3. No wonder when the promise of the Messiah was given, that this Messiah would be "KING OF THE JEWS" it infuriated Herod! a. Herod was not willing to have anyone else be "KING OF THE JEWS" b. Only God can give the "KING OF THE JEWS" and it won't be Herod as His choice, the crown belongs to the promised Messiah! ILLUS:Crowns have always been the sign of authority and Kingship. Charlemagne, whom historians say should deserve to be called "great" above all others, wore an octagonal crown. Each of the eight sides was a plaque of gold, and each plaque was studded with emeralds, sapphires, and pearls. The cost was the price of a king's ransom. Richard the Lion Heart had a crown so heavy that two earls had to stand, one on either side, to hold his head. The crown that Queen Elizabeth wears is worth over $20 million. Edward II once owned nine crowns, something of a record. Put them all together, from all of Europe and from the archives of the East, all of them are but trinkets compared to Christ's crown. Revelation 19 says he had many diadems. He wears a crown of righteousness. He wears a crown of glory. He wears a crown of life. He wears a crown of peace and power. Among those crowns, one outshines the rest. It was not formed by the skilled fingers of a silversmith, nor created by the genius of a craftsman. It was put together hurriedly by the rough hands of Roman soldiers. It was not placed upon its wearer's head in pomp and ceremony, but in the hollow mockery of ridicule and blasphemy. It is a crown of thorns. The amazing thing is that it belonged to me. I deserved to wear that crown. I deserved to feel the thrust of the thorns. I deserved to feel the warm trickle of blood upon my brow. I deserved the pain. He took my crown of thorns--but without compensation. He offers to me instead His crown of life, the crown that fadeth not away. -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 162-163. 4. The only crown that would matter for eternity was the crown of thorns, a crown Herod was not willing to wear. 5. The Magi came to find the true "KING OF THE JEWS" and had no idea that Herod would feel so threatened by a new king that was promised to bring peace to mankind. a. These Gentile astronomers had seen the sign of the promised Jewish king in the heavens, a language they well understood. b. God spoke to them in language they could understand c. This was also precisely the reason God sent His son as a baby, that the King of Kings should be born as a child is a type of language that all humans can understand! 6. God's son is the "KING OF THE JEWS" but even more, the "KING OF KINGS" -- "LORD OF LORDS" -- He is the ruler over all! 7. God's promised "KING" would bring life, Herod brought death! B. Paranoid!     2:3-18 1. Herod went crazy with anger after all, this is the man who murdered his own children, his own wife, his own in laws and uncles because they poised a threat to his kingship. a. He was not likely to accept these Magi's desires to worship the newborn "KING OF THE JEWS!" b. Herod however knew he couldn't over-react to their request or he might not find this threat, so he is polite and even expresses a desire to go and worship Jesus himself once He is found. c. This ruse was clever, but not clever enough to fool God or God's plan! 2. Why did the Magi go to Jerusalem and request where the new king might be born? a. Where else would you expect to find a king? -- in the capital city of the nation, which is what Jerusalem was! b. The star had only led them to Israel, and it's disappearance at this point meant they would have to use logical means to deduce the birthplace, this was logical to find the new king in the capital city. 3. While men may start their journey to God, they cannot find Him without the Scriptures!!! a. Indeed, the Magi as well as Herod had to inquire from God's Word where to find the new king and the scribes were called in and they told them that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. b. We can only get so close to God without the Word of God and if we hope to have a real relationship with God's son we will have to go through the Scriptures to find it! 4. Herod now knows the place, and he also knows the time from when the Magi had first seen the star. a. Herod will not give up his own kingship to this Jesus this is the issue with all people, will we submit to Christ as king, or rule our own lives? b. The failure of Herod to submit to Christ's rule will mean death to Herod, both physical and spiritual. 5. Herod's boasts about coming to worship the Christ are empty boasts they hide the real evil in his heart. ILLUS:Empty barrels make the most noise. -- As quoted in Bob Phillips, Phillips' Book of Great Thoughts & Funny Sayings, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1993), p. 46. 6. Tragically Herod could not see the rule of Christ as the most important thing in his own life and the life of the Jewish nation, he only saw the threat Christ seemed to be to his way of life. a. This is still the reaction of people to Christ today, afraid to accept Him as their king, afraid to submit to His rule over their lives, to give up their independence. b. Christ's crown would be so different from Herod's however, while Herod wore a crown of gold Christ would wear a crown of thorns yet what a difference each crown would bring: (1. Herod's crown brought death. (2. Jesus' crown brought life. (3. The crown of thorns represented Christ's price to redeem us, his life for our eternal life. No earthly crown of gold could be better! ILLUS:Constantine thought he had the original crown of thorns. He gave it to the Venetians as collateral for a loan! Later Louis IX of France bought it. He built Paris's lovely cathedral of Saint Chapelle to house the crown of thorns and other relics. Think of it! The crown of thorns as collateral for a loan! But then the cross was more than collateral for our debt of sin. It paid the debt in full. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). 7. Herod's promises to worship were empty, as was his heart. The man who would be king would be lost without Christ ruling over him! II. THE KING WHO WOULD BE MAN!     2:19-23 A. Protected     2:19-22 1. Herod dies, and probably soon after killing all the baby boys around Bethlehem we know Herod died in 4 BC since his son Archelaus ruled from 4 BC to 6 AD. Jesus was probably born around 6 BC and was just under 2 years of age when the babies were ordered killed by Herod thus around 4 BC -- the same year Herod himself dies! a. So much for Herod's boast of "KING OF THE JEWS" he dies! b. While he dies, Christ lives! c. God protected His own son by warning the Magi, and by having Joseph flee to Egypt for a brief time. 2. Jesus who had become man was the true king and as the man who would be king God's protective hand was over Him. 3. Only Christ's rule makes a difference for all people of all time, as the "KING OF KINGS" He brings life to all who put their faith in Him. 4. There is no other king of the universe, only Christ rules forever! ILLUS:At the very top of the Hungarian crown is a picture of Christ seated on his throne as ruler of the world. When an earthly ruler wore that crown, he was reminded of that heavenly ruler. He was also reminded of that verse in Scripture which says the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Christ, and he will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 11:15) -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). 5. Christ's rule will never end, he came as a child but that did not diminish His power as a king. B. Plan     2:23 1. God's plan cannot be overturned by sinful man the "KING OF THE JEWS" is now the "KING OF KINGS, LORD OF LORDS, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE, WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, ALMIGHTY GOD!" a. God protects Jesus so the plan of redemption can unfold. b. No earthly king will ever match the glory of Christ's kingship. ILLUS:On the front of the 2,000 zloty Polish bill, there is a picture of Mieszko, the first king of Poland. He was never formally crowned, so he is pictured without one. Yet he is the founder of Poland. He united the various Slavic tribes to form a state. He brought Christianity to Poland in 966. He is their uncrowned king. Christ was an uncrowned King while he was on earth, except for the crown of thorns. When he returned to Heaven, God gave him a name above every name and he sat down at the right hand of God. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). 2. Christ's rule is forever! a. Are you prepared to submit to Christ as your king? b. Where you spend eternity depends on what you choose now! c. If He rules now, you will rule with Him later. CONCLUSION:   Herod had the greatest opportunity, to worship the "KING OF THE JEWS" - the king of all nations, but he would not give up his ruling power to submit to God. This is the decision we all face to submit to Christ's authority or to exercise our own, to go our own way. There can only be one king -- is it Christ or is it you?