Sermon Transcript – Herod the Unwise

Series B – Epiphany – Sunday, January 11, 2015 | Pr. Chris Rosebrough

Welcome to the Teaching Ministry of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church. Kongsvinger is a beacon for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is located on the plains of Northwestern Minnesota.
We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sins and salvation by grace through faith alone, and now, here’s a message from Pastor Chris Rosebrough:
Intro bumper
Time StampTranscript
0:28the holy Gospel According to Saint
0:30Matthew Chapter 2 verses 1 through 12.
0:34after Jesus was born in Bethlehem in
0:37Judea during the time of King Herod Magi
0:40from the East came to Jerusalem and
0:42asked where is the one who has been born
0:44King of the Jews we saw his star in the
0:47east and have come to worship Him
0:49when King Herod heard this he was
0:51Disturbed in all Jerusalem with him
0:54when he had called together all the
0:56peoples Chief priests and the teachers
0:58of the law he asked them where the
1:00Christ was to be born
1:02in Bethlehem and Judea they replied for
1:04this is what the prophet has written but
1:06you Bethlehem in the land of Judah are
1:09by no means least among the rulers of
1:11Judah for out of you will come a ruler
1:13who will be the Shepherd Of My People
1:17then Herod called the Magi secretly and
1:20found out from them the exact time the
1:22star had appeared he sent them to
1:24Bethlehem and said go and make a careful
1:26search for the child and as soon as you
1:28find him report to me so that I too may
1:31go and worship him
1:33after they had heard the king they went
1:35on their way and the star they had seen
1:38in the East went ahead of them until it
1:40stopped over the place where the child
1:43when they saw the star they were
1:45Overjoyed on coming to the house they
1:48saw the child with his mother Mary and
1:50they bowed down and worshiped him then
1:52they open their treasures and presented
1:54him with go Gifts of gold of incense and
1:58of myrrh and having been warned in a
2:00dream not to go back to Herod they
2:02returned to the their country by another
2:07in the name of Jesus
2:09all right here again the words of the
2:12prophet Isaiah from our Old Testament
2:13reading this morning arise Shine for
2:16your light has come and the glory of the
2:18Lord Rises upon you see Darkness covers
2:21the earth in thick darknesses over the
2:23peoples but the Lord Rises upon you and
2:27His Glory Appears over you Nations will
2:30come to your light and Kings to the
2:33brightness of your Dawn what a wonderful
2:34prophecy regarding what it is we just
2:36read in Our Gospel text the Kings will
2:39come to the frightness of Our Lord now
2:42this is Epiphany Sunday now technically
2:44we’re recognizing Epiphany today
2:48although it was on the sixth so we’re
2:50cheating a little bit liturgically but I
2:52won’t tell anybody if you don’t okay the
2:54idea behind Epiphany is it’s the
2:57revealing of Christ and Epiphany Sunday
2:59has that great text of the the visit of
3:03the Magi and a good way to think about
3:05it is is that this is Christmas for the
3:08Gentiles you see at Christmas time we
3:11had Shepherds come and worship Christ
3:13but they were all Jewish Shepherds this
3:16the Gentiles are showing up and if you
3:19remember in the history of Israel Israel
3:21when they well betrayed God and God had
3:23to exact the curses portion of the
3:26Mosaic Covenant on them at one point
3:28sent them into Exile in the east in
3:31Babylon and now we have Magi coming out
3:35of the East following the word of God
3:37that they learned through the people of
3:40Israel who were exiled in the East and
3:43following a star to come and worship the
3:45king of the Jews so we go back to our
3:47text after Jesus was born in Bethlehem
3:50and Judea during the time of King Herod
3:52now if this was being narrated if this
3:55was a television program and there was
3:57narration you know the narrator would
3:58say and after Jesus was born in Judea
4:01during the time of King Herod you’d hear
4:05King Herod no bueno this man well the
4:09way the kids say it now that the phrase
4:11goes this is one sick puppy all right
4:13now let me give you an example what I
4:14mean by this did a little bit of
4:16research on our on our antagonist this
4:19morning Herod
4:21he was an Edomite you know Edom you know
4:24right Esau you remember Jacob and Esau
4:29children his progenity you know they
4:32became known as the so he was
4:34an Edomite whose ancestors converted to
4:37Judaism and Herod was actually ashamed
4:40of his Origins and he no joke attempted
4:45well invent a genealogy for himself of
4:48Jewish descent he was so embarrassed by
4:50this fact but he’s really not blood Jew
4:53okay so he was born about 74 BCE in
4:58and um and he was made the king of Judah
5:04under of course Augustus Caesar so as
5:06herod’s Reign progressed he became
5:09increasingly paranoid and how should we
5:11put it mentally unstable there were
5:14indeed plots against him as it generally
5:16are for people in power in those days
5:18and those around him well they were
5:20guilty of manipulating his fears to
5:22their own advantage and leading him to
5:24lash out violently including against
5:26members of his own family Herod had a
5:29large number of people executed or
5:31assassinated including members of his
5:34broader family and even some of his own
5:36wives and Sons one of herod’s main wives
5:39was named Mary Omni and she was of Hasma
5:44hasmonian origin Herod married her at
5:47least in part to cement ties with the
5:50nation’s former ruling family so there’s
5:52is it love or politics maybe both who
5:54knows even as his own family was
5:56displacing it so Herod professed he
5:58loved Mary Omni so much that on more
6:00than one occasion he gave orders for her
6:02to be killed if he himself died so that
6:04he might not be separated from her in
6:06death now that seems like an odd thing
6:09to do but Herod was so disliked it is
6:11also said that he ordered that upon his
6:14death that certain major popular leaders
6:17within Jerusalem would also have to be
6:19assassinated as well because they he
6:21knew that nobody would mourn him so if
6:25you know if you have everyone else
6:26murdered upon his death then there would
6:28definitely be mourning in in Jerusalem
6:31thankfully that order was not followed
6:33out anyway Mary Omni she became
6:36convinced that he did not really love
6:37her and I’m wondering why and relations
6:40between them how shall we say it they
6:42turned Frosty right Loveless marriage
6:44it’s a difficult thing eventually
6:46herod’s sister convinced Herod that Mary
6:48Omni was planning to poison him he had
6:50Mary Omni executed herod’s Sons by the
6:53way they didn’t do any better two of
6:55Mary omni’s Sons Alexander and
6:57aristobolus had well difficult relations
7:00with their father will say that and he
7:02suspected them of plotting against him
7:04and eventually he brought them up on
7:06charges of treason before Augustus
7:08Caesar who allowed Herod to convene a
7:11court in order to try them
7:13so you know he you know Caesar allowed
7:16this so the court found them guilty and
7:18they were put to death and they were
7:20killed by strangulation which is just an
7:24awful way to die you know you know you
7:26are my son my own flesh and blood I
7:28think you’re trying to kill me so we’re
7:30going to have you executed and you’re
7:32going to die
7:33this is just awful I mean this is like
7:36worse than most soap operas not all of
7:38them but most right so
7:43um they were um these were the last of
7:46herod’s sons whom he had killed herod’s
7:48firstborn son antipater born of herod’s
7:51first wife Dora for many years was
7:53favored by Herod to air to be the heir
7:55of the throne but he too was eventually
7:57brought up on charges of plotting
7:58against his father he was executed five
8:01days before herod’s own death
8:05nice guy yeah in view of all of this
8:09the emperor of Rome Augustus Caesar
8:12reportedly quipped this is actually
8:14written down in a in a scroll that we
8:17have it says it Herod said not Heritage
8:19Augusta said it is better to be herod’s
8:22Pig than to be his son
8:25well for the very reason that herod’s a
8:26Jew and he doesn’t eat bacon so yes it
8:28clearly would be better to be herod’s
8:30Pig so um so we kind of pick up this
8:34story and this is the guy that the Magi
8:38go and see
8:42this isn’t gonna this isn’t gonna end
8:43well that’s who we’re dealing with so
8:46and let me kind of put this here as we
8:49read the rest of the story
8:51keep in mind kind of keep this dichotomy
8:53with Proverbs 1 7 in mind the fear of
8:56the Lord the fear of Yahweh is the
8:57beginning of knowledge but fools despise
9:00wisdom and instruction fools despise
9:03wisdom and instruction who’s wise and
9:06whose shall we say unwise in all of this
9:08circumstance so the story continues and
9:12The Story Goes that um
9:15the Magi from the East came to Jerusalem
9:18and they asked where is the one who has
9:20been born King of the Jews we saw his
9:22star in the east and have come to
9:24worship Him
9:26when King Herod heard this he was
9:27Disturbed in all Jerusalem with him
9:31yeah Disturbed truly he was Disturbed
9:34why is he Disturbed King of the Jews
9:36King of the Jews as the king of the Jews
9:38has been born in Jerusalem of course the
9:39Magi show up thinking well King of the
9:41Jews has been born well herod’s the king
9:43maybe it’s the son
9:45right that’s a possibility
9:47so they basically show up quite
9:50innocently looking for the king of the
9:51Jews we’ve seen a star he’s been born
9:53where is he he’s supposed to be here in
9:55Jerusalem the palace is here
9:58well we’ve noted during Christmas Jesus
10:00wasn’t born in a palace he was born in a
10:03so Disturbed when he says he’s Disturbed
10:07he’s disturbed because there’s a usurper
10:11there’s a true king I’m not even truly
10:13Jewish remember I had to have my you
10:16know genealogy fudged a little bit his
10:19birth certificate was saying it was from
10:21Kenya but anyway
10:23did I say that out loud
10:28that’s kind of the issue here right
10:30so he’s Disturbed all right Disturbed to
10:33the point where murderous thoughts begin
10:35to come up in his mind he wants to
10:37murder this king of the Jews that’s
10:39what’s really going on and of course he
10:41would murder his own Sons
10:44here’s what it says when he had called
10:47together all the peoples the chief
10:48priests and the teachers of the law he
10:50asked them where the Christ was to be
10:52born in Bethlehem and Judea they replied
10:54for this is what the prophet has written
10:57they knew where the Messiah is going to
10:59be born but you Bethlehem in the land of
11:01Judah are by no means least among the
11:03rulers of Judah for out of you will come
11:04a ruler who will be the Shepherd Of My
11:06People Israel
11:08then Herod called the Magi secretly
11:12come let’s talk let’s have a little chat
11:14so they have a little meeting you know
11:17maybe serve coffee so tell me when did
11:19when did you see the star yeah just tell
11:21me a little bit more about all this star
11:22stuff and so
11:25um he’s this he found out from them the
11:27exact time the star had appeared he sent
11:29them to Bethlehem and say you go and
11:32make a careful search for that child and
11:34as soon as you find him report it to me
11:36so that I too can go and worship him
11:40none of it’s true he does not want to
11:43know he wants to know where the child is
11:45for sure so they can stick us knife in
11:48its neck right that’s what he really
11:50wants to do
11:51so after they heard the king they went
11:53on their way and the star that they had
11:55seen in the East went ahead of them
11:56until it stopped over the place where
11:58the child was
12:01so here’s they’re following the star and
12:03that’s our song our opening song You
12:05Know star of wonder star of night right
12:08so they come when they saw the star they
12:10were Overjoyed on coming to the house
12:12notice the order here they saw the child
12:15with his mother Mary it doesn’t say they
12:17saw Mary and the child it says they saw
12:19the child
12:21and his mother Mary now keep in mind
12:25despite the fact that we have no
12:27photographs of Jesus from this time that
12:30the medieval depictions of Jesus with a
12:32Halo are probably not historically
12:35accurate so you know it wasn’t like they
12:37were wandering through Bethlehem and
12:39there’s that kid with the Halo that must
12:41be him so no that’s not what’s going on
12:44Jesus’s Divinity is hidden within his
12:46Humanity if you would and so how did
12:49they know the star told them and God’s
12:51word told them this is the place they
12:52were and coming to the house they saw
12:54the child with his mother and they bowed
12:57down and they
12:59worshiped him
13:01worship as if he’s a god
13:04and he is
13:05so then they opened their treasures and
13:07presented him with gifts of gold and of
13:10incense and myrrh now remember from our
13:14song the song that we opened up with
13:15actually explained what the gifts were
13:17about did you catch it
13:19the gold is for the king
13:22how about that in that uh
13:26incense that uh frankincense
13:29what’s that all about well that’s
13:31regarding his divinity
13:35for his suffering and death burial
13:39somewhat prophetic in their gifts now
13:41because there are three gifts this is
13:44the reason why people think there are
13:46three Magi and in church tradition has
13:50come up now we have names for these guys
13:51and I don’t know their names I I don’t
13:53really buy into the tradition so I don’t
13:55particularly care for their names but
13:57I’m of the opinion that if there were
13:59only three of them Herod probably would
14:01have had them knocked off so there had
14:04to be a few more than three yeah herod’s
14:07is he’s just an unstable guy you know
14:09what I’m saying
14:11so it says they knelt before the lowly
14:13Christ and they worshiped him even
14:16though his glory and his divinity were
14:18utterly concealed by his
14:19two-year-oldness Jesus’s
14:20two-year-oldness so we bow down we bow
14:22down and we worship the same Jesus
14:24concealed and revealed for us in the
14:26word preached in the bread and the cup
14:28that we have here every month trusting
14:31as the wise men did that God is true to
14:33his word so just as Jesus’s Divinity is
14:35not you know evident but it’s by looking
14:38at him it’s hidden in his Humanity so
14:41Christ is here
14:42kind of hidden in a way he’s hidden in
14:45the preached word he’s hidden in the
14:47Lord’s supper he’s hidden hidden in the
14:49baptismal font he’s hidden in the
14:51Absolution but we like them are wise
14:54because we trust that God is true to his
14:58God was true to his word regarding the
15:00Christ God is true to his word guarding
15:02the promises that he’s given to us and
15:06now we kind of come to this thorny part
15:08of my sermon we’ve got to pause here for
15:11a second and we need to do a little
15:14because when we talk about Herod clearly
15:16bad guy and we look at the Magi who are
15:19very wise because the fear of the Lord
15:21is the beginning of wisdom they’re wise
15:23they’re worshiping Christ when you
15:25examine your own life as a Christian
15:28you’re going to find that you are at
15:31times similarly behaving like Herod
15:35and there are times when you are
15:36similarly behaving like the Magi
15:39worshiping Christ
15:42now it gets a little bit thorny when you
15:44start getting down to the Herod portion
15:46of it Herod has his little kingdom he’s
15:51going to protect it with all of his
15:52might murderously so and he as you’re
15:55going to re I’m going to read it here in
15:56a minute will even go so far as to
15:58concoct a plot to assassinate Jesus now
16:02I don’t think we all go that far but the
16:04reality is is that you don’t have to go
16:06that far in order to do the same thing
16:09when God’s word calls you to repent of
16:11your sins and you say to yourself oh
16:14yeah I can quit anytime it’s not that
16:16big of a deal
16:18are you not
16:21being like Herod
16:24when you try to control circumstances
16:27manipulate them sinfully so are you not
16:30being like Herod don’t tell me what to
16:33do keep your hands off of me God or how
16:35about you know what’s this idea about
16:37Jesus kind of impacting all of my life
16:41isn’t it just isn’t enough that Jesus is
16:44just around on Sundays why do I need him
16:46on Monday or Tuesday
16:48just a little bit of Jesus
16:52Who’s acting as the Lord there
16:55you were Christ or when we pick and
16:59choose Those portions of God’s word that
17:01we want to believe and not believe
17:03I like this part over here but I don’t
17:05like that part over there
17:07I like the part that makes me feel good
17:09about myself that’s happy and joyous and
17:11upbeat and this other stuff seems so
17:14you know that part that keeps telling me
17:16that I’m a sinner
17:19like that part so I you know what I’m
17:21going to do I’m just going to x that out
17:23I’m gonna do the the Thomas Jefferson
17:25thing pull out an exacto knife and Those
17:27portions of scripture that I disagree
17:29with just
17:30toss them out and now I’ve got my own
17:33Bible and I believe all of the Bible
17:34that I have except for those parts of it
17:36that are emitted are you not behaving
17:38like Herod
17:40now the reality is we’re all guilty of
17:42doing this
17:44in some ways protecting our own little
17:46kingdoms and believe me they are small
17:49all of our kingdoms are microscopic
17:52whether it’s your little family kingdom
17:54or your kingdom at work or your kingdom
17:56in the community but if you’re
17:58protecting that
18:00murderously so you are just like Herod
18:05but there’s another thing that goes on
18:07inside of us as Christians
18:09we truly do worship Christ
18:12we truly do Bow Down
18:15and thank God for for the gift of a
18:18savior it seems like we’re at odds with
18:20ourselves don’t we we have a little bit
18:22of Magi in US
18:23and we have a little bit of Herod in us
18:25and they seem to be doing this all the
18:28that’s the Christian Life
18:30this is what Paul talks about in Romans
18:327 when he says the things I want to do I
18:33don’t do
18:35but the things I’d the things I don’t
18:37want to do I do the things I want to do
18:39I don’t do who will save me from this
18:41body of death you see because each and
18:43every one of us as Christians
18:45we still have our sinful nature and our
18:47sinful nature behaves and acts exactly
18:49like herod’s sinful nature does
18:53because we all have that in common
18:56but because you’re baptized because
18:58Christ has regenerated you because
18:59you’ve been brought to penitent faith in
19:01Jesus the spirit has also worked in you
19:03and the Holy Spirit is in you as a
19:06deposit guaranteeing your inheritance so
19:08you see within yourself two conflicting
19:12the one desire is wise
19:15and the other desire is utterly foolish
19:18as foolish as King Herod
19:21and that’s the Christian Life
19:24this is why Luther correctly understood
19:28that the entire Christian Life is one of
19:32and if you keep thinking about this The
19:34Lord’s Prayer give us this day our daily
19:37bread we pray in the Lord’s Prayer right
19:39that’s a hint as to how often you should
19:41pray it
19:43it’s a hint if you’re supposed to be
19:45praying The Lord’s Prayer on a daily
19:47basis because I’m praying for daily
19:50there’s also that phrase in there and
19:52forgive us our trespasses as we forgive
19:54those who trespass against us
19:57every day
19:58every day you sin and you trust in
20:02Christ for the Forgiveness of your sins
20:03and there is a day coming a day coming
20:06when we will all rise from the grave if
20:09Christ doesn’t come first I’m kind of
20:10hoping to skip that whole death thing
20:12you know that’s kind of a nice thing
20:13that’s wonderful caveat if Jesus shows
20:15up today none of us dies
20:18you know you know wouldn’t it be great
20:21but if Jesus continues to tarry in his
20:24own wisdom for whatever reasons he’s
20:25chosen to do so and we all end up out
20:28there rather than in here on a Sunday
20:31well there’s a day coming when we’re
20:33going to be called forth from the grave
20:35we will not have sinful nature anymore
20:38we’ll not have that old Adam who behaves
20:41like Herod who does the bidding of the
20:44instead we will all be transformed new
20:48bodies no sin no death no disease no
20:51getting old I’m thinking I’m going to be
20:53about 16 pretty spelled you know like
20:55for eternity it’s going to be cool
20:57really cool right yeah
21:01but coming back to our text
21:03says this about the Magi having been
21:05warned in a dream not to go back to
21:08they returned to their country by
21:11another route that’s where pericope ends
21:13but I want to read a little bit more
21:15so God is the one who summoned the Magi
21:19from the East and brought them to
21:20worship they are Gentiles they’re not
21:22Jews they’re worship Jesus and they came
21:26in not knowing that Jesus wasn’t born in
21:28Jerusalem and they actually kind of set
21:30Herod off which God knew that was going
21:34to happen God’s sending a message to
21:36Herod by the way you’re not the true
21:37king of the Jews the real ones here so
21:40God warns these gentlemen in a dream do
21:43not go back to Herod
21:45they had no idea Herod had it out for
21:47Jesus so God warns them and then they
21:50return by their country taking another
21:51route and it says this when they had
21:53gone up when they had gone an angel of
21:56the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream
21:58get up he said take the child and his
22:02mother and escape to Egypt stay there
22:04until I tell you for Herod is going to
22:07search for the child to kill him
22:13so he got up
22:15took the child and his mother during the
22:18that’s how urgent this was
22:20so after the Magi come and they worship
22:23middle of the night he gets a dream
22:27and literally it’s this Mary we gotta go
22:30and we gotta go now
22:31we got to get out of here now
22:34now we’ve got to go
22:36they gather their stuff up this is the
22:39days before you have flashlights and
22:41cars and things like that and they leave
22:43Bethlehem in the middle of the night
22:45that’s how how quickly they got out of
22:48town Joseph didn’t question
22:51this Revelation from God didn’t question
22:53it one bit
22:55so he got up took the child of his
22:56mother during the night left for Egypt
22:59where he stayed until the death of Herod
23:01and so was fulfilled what the Lord had
23:03said to the prophet
23:04out of Egypt I called my son
23:07it’s the second time in the history of
23:10the Bible that of Joseph has led Israel
23:14into Egypt
23:17that’s because what happened in the Old
23:19Testament was pointing to this and
23:21remember in the Old Testament it was
23:23Pharaoh who was trying to have all of
23:26the the young boys of Israel killed
23:30right remember that well listen to that
23:32listen to this with that in mind when
23:34Herod realized that he had been
23:36outwitted by the Magi actually he was
23:39outwitted by God it says this he was
23:44enraged well there’s a shock
23:47and he gave orders to kill all the boys
23:49in Bethlehem
23:54I can’t imagine this
24:01putting an order out to murder
24:04infants two years old and under
24:09I can’t I cannot imagine this
24:16would be better to be a pig than to even
24:19be one of herod’s subjects
24:22he was Furious he gave orders to kill
24:24all the boys in Bethlehem in its
24:25vicinity who were two years old and
24:27under in accordance with the time he had
24:29learned from the Magi
24:31then what was said to the Prophet
24:33Jeremiah Was fulfilled a voice his heard
24:35in Rama weeping in great Mourning
24:38Rachel weeping for her children and
24:40refusing to be comforted because they
24:41are no more
24:45if a king did this today
24:48or a governor or a prince or a president
24:51this would be splashed all over the
24:55this guy would be likened to Hitler
25:01could you imagine
25:05but that’s how our sinful nature
25:08reacts to Christ
25:10the true king
25:15so like I said
25:16keeping in mind that Pharaoh tried to
25:19have the first had all the young boys of
25:22Egypt murdered that points us to this
25:25which is the Fulfillment this is the
25:27reality the Old Testament was the type
25:28and Shadow and Joseph leads again Israel
25:32true Israel Israel reduced to one person
25:36a little boy
25:37at this point probably two years old
25:41two years old takes Israel back into
25:45Egypt to fulfill the prophecy out of
25:47Egypt I called my son
25:48and you ask yourself what’s going on
25:51I can tell you what’s going on here
25:56has stepped into human history
26:02the true king
26:04has stepped onto the battlefield
26:07and he’s doing he’s done it for you he’s
26:09done it for me
26:12Satan at this point took the opportunity
26:14to knock him off to kill him
26:17and even then he couldn’t do it
26:20but there’s a bigger story going on and
26:23it’s an amazing story
26:25God in human flesh as a little boy
26:29is whisked away in the middle of the
26:30night into Egypt
26:33all of this for you all of this for me
26:37perfectly living out God’s law and even
26:40at this age he’s already on his way to
26:42the cross
26:44to bleed and to die for your sins and
26:48let us rejoice with these Gentile Magi
26:52and do what they’ve done
26:54worship this King
26:57this true king of the Jews
27:00and let us bring our gifts to him not
27:02because we’re justified by our gifts but
27:05because we have been Justified
27:09every morning here
27:11on Sunday we pass a small plate
27:15but even when you put a few coins in
27:18that plate you are doing the same thing
27:20that the Magi have done
27:23giving of what God has given you to
27:25support the preaching of the Gospel
27:28Romans says that in light of God’s mercy
27:33because of what Christ has done for you
27:35offer yourselves as a Living Sacrifice
27:39holy and acceptable made holy and
27:41acceptable by what Christ has done
27:44and a third gift
27:46is in all you do do it unto the Lord in
27:49everything you do in your work
27:51doesn’t matter if you’re selling cars or
27:53you’re a farmer or a housewife
27:56do everything
27:58because you are in Christ as if you are
28:00doing it for the king himself
28:03you don’t have gold or frankincense and
28:06myrrh but you have those gifts
28:08and those gifts are holy because Christ
28:11has made you holy
28:13in the name of Jesus
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