“When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” Matthew 2:3
When Christ came, he did not only bring joy to the world, he also brought trouble.
For King Herod and His followers, the coming of Jesus was something to be feared, something to be scared about. Does Christmas means joy only? Not at all. For them, Christmas is a time of trouble.
Herod was a powerful and ambitious king. His hunger and zeal for material success brought him to the pinnacle of power, lifting him up to one of the highest positions of his community. As a king, his projects and infrastructures dropped the jaws of many. He was successful and popular, amassing wealth and using bribery without fear of anyone.
Descending from the lineage of Esau, his family heritage boasts a list of the society’s elites. Esau, his great great grandfather, out of his own greed and superficiality, was deceived by his twin brother Jacob (Genesis 27). As a result, Esau lived a suicidal life of revenge, rebellion and bitterness in the mountains of Petra, living out his prolonged anger by pursuing success and money throughout his life. This spirit was passed on to his children. Their family name “Edomite” was synonymous to fortune, but was also equated with evil works. The Esaus made it, they reached the highest level of revenge- being a king in the land of their own blood enemy- the land of Jacob- Israel.
Herod’s reign was filled with sinful deeds both publicly and privately-revealed. The public and merciless mass murder of children was his work (Matthew 2:16), and the private hypocrisy of his heart towards the wise men was a way of knowing that he is a false worshiper of God (2:8).
That’s why, when Jesus came, when the King of kings came, his heart was filled with nothing but fear, worry and trouble. For Him, Jesus was his “joy-killer”. Christ is the mortal enemy of his life. he would do everything to eliminate Christ in Christmas. If he could, he wanted to replace Christ with anyone at any cost.
This could be the Christmas of many today:
1.) Like Herod, they wanted to get rid of Christ in Christmas. Today, some would prefer to call it Xmas, or Seasons Greetings. Although Xmas could mean “Ch”mas, as X in Greek is Ch in English. Some would hunger for “Christmas Party” but fill it with revelry and drunkenness that Christ hates.
2.) Like Herod, all they wish is to replace Christ. Today, people lift up Santa Claus in place of Christ. The word “anti” in Anti-Christ simply means “in place of.” Santa Claus could be an “Anti-Christ”, a replacement of Christ in the minds of children.
3.) Christ’s coming is a threat to the modern Herods of our day. Like Herod, all sinners who are unrepentant, unwilling to turn from their sin and believe in Christ, cannot expect anything from Christ but judgment. Like the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25, they received rejection from Christ because of their unwillingness to prepare for His coming.
We are becoming Herods in some way if we keep on nurturing sin in our private lives, and fail to confess them to the light. In the first Christmas, He came as a baby. But in His second coming, he’ll come as a Judge of all the earth, whose eyes are blazing with fire, His feet as brass; and He is carrying a mighty sword that would catapult millions to eternal judgment (Rev. 19:12-15). At the first Christmas, He came with mercy, hope and joy. At his second coming, he comes with wrath.
Before this Second Coming comes, before this “second Christmas” comes, we sinners need the First Christmas. We need to look to that poor and humble Christ and beg Him to save us from Himself. Call Christ to be saved from Christ. Cling to the Christ of the first Christmas to be saved from the Christ of the second Advent/ coming. Sinners must cry to Him like the dying thief beside Him at the cross. And when they do, He promises them that they will be saved (Romans 5:1). Unlike Herod, that’s the only way that our Christmas becomes a cause of Joy, not trouble. Above all, our Christmas becomes authentic, not “plastic,” as what the King Herod did (2:8).