Jesus and Herod
Reading: Matthew 2:13-23
Additional reading: Heb 2: 10-18, Matthew 21:33-46
Blanks: Stay there until I tell you, Get up
It was when Jesus was about two.
Jesus was still growing up in Bethlehem.
For some reason, the family of Jesus has been staying in Bethlehem for about 2 years, instead of returning to Nazareth.
God asked them to wait in Bethlehem.
Wait for what?
God knew some scholars from the east was coming following the star.
They were late.
But still God wanted them to see Jesus in Bethlehem where Jesus was born.
So the family of Jesus waited for about 2 years.
As for these scholars, there was nothing more important than this.
They had to see this child.
So they were very happy when they saw Jesus.
Then they said that this child is the King of the Jews and offered their gifts to him.
That is their worship.
But the King Herod also heard about this child.
Because these scholars met him first, and told him about the child before they came here.
They did this, because they didn’t know who Herod was.
Who is Herod?
Herod killed people to maintain his Hellenistic kingdom.
He killed his sons and wives and other his family members because he was suspicious of them.
You see, Herod suffered from paranoia.
So, he was suspicious of other people without no good reason.
Then he became aggressive feeling that he needed to protect himself.
Herod also suffered from depression.
So when it was so severe, he even tried to commit suicide.
But also he desired to become the King of Jews.
So he renovated the temple.
And Herod built and built what people needed.
Herod built palaces, theaters, houses, synagogues, roads, port, fortress: e.g., the fortress at Masada.
People came, use and admired what Herod built.
Herod was news making, and changing landscapes.
So some people accepted his leadership.
But Pharisees didn’t want him to be their king, because Herod brought Roman Civilization and Humanism to Jerusalem.
Pharisees resisted Herod’s effort of bringing Roman culture to Jerusalem.
Then Pharisees asked Jewish people to obey their traditions, not Herod’s.
Pharisees asked this question continually resisting:
“What is like to be a true Jew?”
Then they were making their Jewish life form against Herod's Roman cultures and belief.
But Pharisees was also misled.
Later, they ignored to love and obey God from their hearts.
They lost their love toward God.
Then they could not enjoy being with God.
Anyway, Herod knew his place in the Roman world.
So he tried to bring an unity in his kingdom under the Roman Empire.
Then Herod became powerful dominating and ruling.
Then Herod was the king for about 35 years.
Anyway, back to our reading, so, Herod was not happy to hear that a Jewish boy was born to be the King of the Jews.
He decided to get rid of this mysterious boy who Maji came to see.
God knew what Herod was trying to do with this information.
So the angel of God appeared in Joseph’s dream and said:
“Go to Egypt with Jesus and Mary.
Stay there until I tell you, because Herod is trying to kill the boy.”
So Joseph’s family packed everything and went to Egypt.
But they didn't need to stay long in Egypt, because Herod died within a year.
When Herod was about to die, he built a burial place for himself at the mount Herodium.
What is Herodium?
He built this about 20 years before his death.
First, Herod built this mountain.
And on the top of the mountain, he built a small town.
Also when Herod was about to die, Herod was concerned that no one would mourn his death.
So he commanded a large group of local elders to come to Jericho, where he was.
Then he gave an order to kill them when he died so that people might mourn and show grief.
That is Herod.
But Herod's son Archelaus and sister Salome did not carry out his wish.
And Herod was buried at Herodium.
After his death, the angel of God appeared in Joseph’s dream and said:
“Go back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the boy are now dead.”
So they came back to Israel.
But Herod’s sons became kings over Israel.
One of his sons, Archelaus became the king over half of the lands: Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Samaria, Idumea and Judea area.
Joseph felt something not so good about this new king as well.
And since Joseph already registered the names of his family in Bethlehem, they might still look for the boy Jesus.
It is unlikely.
But Joseph hesitated to be settled in Bethlehem which was near Jerusalem and Herodium.
Then he went to Galilee and settled in Nazareth, where Herod’s another son, Antipas was a king over there.
About 9 years later, King Archelaus was removed because he killed so many people.
So later, Pilate was sent from Rome.
Anyway, Jesus’ family settled in Nazareth.
Jesus lived there until he was thirty years old.
So he was called, Jesus of Nazareth.
Later people didn’t even know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
When he was about thirty, Jesus spent his time with John the Baptist at Judea.
Then Jesus came back to Galilee area and started his ministry.
Some people said that they learn leadership from the Bible.
But then they need to be careful.
Because they don’t want to learn from Herod.
In the Bible, there are many kings like Herod.
If they read the Bible in a wrong way, they may become like Herod instead of Jesus.
But if you remember, at first, even the students of Jesus wanted to be like Herod when they were in charge of God’s nation and church.
They thought that they would rule over other people like Herod, and say that they give benefit.
So Jesus said like this to his students:
“No, if you want to be a leader, you need to become servants of all people.
See I came here to serve.
So you need to be humble and obey God and serve.”
Then looking at Herod’s achievement, Jesus might have said this: Mark 8:36-37
“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
Then later, Jesus commented that the temple that Herod renovated would be destroyed.
Jesus ignored Herod’s leadership completely.
In Israel, there were people like Herod.
And there were people like Pharisees who resisted Herod’s Roman Civilization and lifestyle.
But Jesus ignored both of them.
Jesus didn’t follow Pharisees’ lifestyle either.
Instead, Jesus called Pharisees “Hypocrites.”
This was the reason why he didn’t follow them.
Jesus was looking at their hearts and said that they didn't love God anymore.
Then people like Herod and Pharisees didn’t like this Son of God.
So they were ready to attack.
But Jesus didn’t compromise.
Also Jesus didn’t run away from them and go to somewhere else.
Because God sent him to Jerusalem.
Jesus was called to speak to people in Jerusalem and Israel.
Jesus was called to speak the truth there.
But for a while, whenever they tried to kill Jesus, God saved him.
Then Jesus said to his students:
“If you want to follow me, you need to deny yourself, and take up your cross, and follow me.
If you desire to save your life will lose it, but if you lose your life for me and for the gospel’s sake will save it.”
Then Jesus continued talking about the kingdom of God.
This kingdom is very differently.
Through this kingdom, the mind of God, the thoughts of God, the will of God and the truth for God manifest in God’s way.
Sinners and common people loved Jesus, as Jesus showed them how God really loves them.
But, Jewish religious leaders tried hard to get rid of Jesus.
They didn’t want to repent and do what Jesus was asking.
Then Jesus knew what would happen to him in Jerusalem.
Jesus knew that he would be killed.
So Jesus told this kind of story:
There was a rich and powerful leader.
He built a nice-looking building.
He rented out every space of the building.
Then he hired some managers to take care of the building.
Then, he left for another project in other country.
But when these managers started to receive the rents, they didn’t want to share with the owner.
It was crazy.
They didn’t want to give the owner his portion.
The owner sent his people to receive his portion of the rent.
But they beat them and killed them.
Many times like this, these managers treated the servants of the owner as their enemy.
Then the owner sent his son.
They were supposed to obey his son and give the portion of the rents.
But when they saw the son, they wanted the whole inheritance that this son would have.
So they got him out of the building and killed him.
After telling this kind of story, Jesus asked:
“What do you think?
What should the owner do?”
“He should kill these managers and hire some good people who could give back his rent.”
Telling this kind of story what does Jesus say?
God chose some people to take care of God’s nation and church.
But they didn’t want to listen to God.
They wanted to live in their greed and sinful ways.
So God sent many prophets to persuade them.
But they beat these prophets or killed them.
Then they became God’s enemy.
But still God decided to send the Son of God, the author of life.
So Jesus came.
He showed the nature, character and heart of God.
He peacefully came to take good care of his father’s nation and church.
He knew how to serve God.
But those managers wanted to have what this Son of God has, even though they do not deserve.
So they treated Jesus badly and killed him.
They also acted like King Herod.
They would kill to have more power.
In this world, there are people like Herod.
They followed Herod’s bad example.
So Jesus must show another way of living.
And Jesus must prove that his way is better.
Jesus chose to live humbly for God.
Jesus chose to follow God.
Jesus chose love and obedience toward God.
Then God raised Jesus up from the dead.
God honors Jesus and values his obedient life.
God gives everything to Jesus and made Jesus the King over everything.
We also need to choose.
Do we want people to worship us or honor us, like Herod wanted?
Or will we refuse to receive any praise?
Are we going to listen to Jesus?
Do we want to understand Jesus and become like Jesus?
Do we want to become good managers who worship only God?
Do we want people to honor and praise only God, because God has done everything?
This is the best life.
For this life, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit, the living water quenches our thirst.
Then we know in God we have everything.
We don’t want anything else.
Then the Holy Spirit guides us and empowers us to live the life of Jesus.
When we know this that Jesus is the most important person in the world, we are happy because we learn the truth.
And Jesus is stronger than anyone and anything.
Jesus is stronger than any spirit.
So what a joy to have Jesus our best friend!
What a joy to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit with us forever!
And no one can take that joy from us.
Then as we serve God, we sense his presence and working with us always.
We know Jesus is with us.
We know that the Holy Spirit is with us and protect us.
We experience God as our best friend.
We learn to enjoy being with Jesus.
We are truly satisfied.
Let us pray:
Jesus, thank you for giving your life.
We also want to obey you.
Help us to see more clearly what God wants for our life.
Help us to want what you want.
May we obey God in your name.
We pray this, in Jesus name.