The Control Freak Who Lost Control

Matthew 2:1-12

Jesus Christ—God manifest in the flesh—the Babe of Bethlehem’s manger. King Herod, the King of Judea, the Great Herod, had no clue as to Who this male infant really was. However, Herod felt threatened by this infant. Matthew says that when Herod heard about the Baby from the Wise Men, he was greatly distressed. It was the phrase “The King of the Jews” that caused his discomfort. Herod might be suspected, by some, of having pedophobia—the fear of children–at least of THIS Child.

The scholars said that the Messiah would be born and be the King of the Jews, but in Herod’s eyes, it was Herod who was supposed to be the King of the Jews. Herod was part of a larger political family, most of whom were cruel, cunning and cold-blooded. It was shortly after the visit of the Wise Men that Herod killed innocent children in an effort to try to eliminate Jesus.

Herod was only partly Jewish therefore the Jews didn’t trust him. The Romans, on the other hand, were suspicious of him because he WAS partly Jewish. For Herod to survive, he had to have the power necessary to rule that unruly Jewish backwater of the Empire. And it wasn’t easy. He wasn’t loved. He had to instill fear in the people as a motivation for them to offer Herod their allegiance. He had to maintain order in the nation of the Jews. Rome would send in their armies, and that would have been far worse for the Jews if Herod didn’t maintain control.

Much is known of Herod. On the other hand, not much information is available about the Wise Men. We don’t know their names. We don’t even know how many there were. We know they brought three gifts, so many people will assume there were three wise men, but the Bible really doesn’t say there were three. All we know for sure is that they sought Jesus. They looked for Jesus. And ultimately, that is all we need to know about them. Nothing else could possibly be more important.

Herod, on the other hand, didn’t seek Jesus. He was afraid that Jesus would take control of all those things Herod held dear. He was afraid that Jesus would take control of his work, his family, his life. And Herod wanted to be the one in control. If there was one thing about Herod, he was always in control and he would seek to destroy anything or anyone that challenged his control.

Herod had a 16-year-old brother-in-law who tried to make a name for himself and tried to gain power behind Herod’s back. Herod had to stay in control. So one day while the family was enjoying a pleasant swim, Herod playfully held the young man’s head under the water, until he drowned. Years later, his wife Mariamne was involved in a complicated plot behind Herod’s back with the hope of having her family rise to power. But Herod had to stay in control. So he had Miamimne killed. Herod was always in control–no matter the cost.

So badly did Herod want to be in control that he was determined to kill Jesus. He was not about to let Jesus have control of his life. Of course, he didn’t know Jesus from Adam. He didn’t even know the name of the child. He only knew that the baby had been born in Bethlehem. So just to be sure that he killed Jesus, he had all the babies in town under the age of 2 years of age killed.

He was so desperate to be in control that nothing else mattered — even the lives of innocent children. Matthew says that Herod was greatly distressed to hear about the birth of Jesus. But that is such an understatement. Herod was very fearful of Jesus—fearful that Jesus and not Herod would be in control.

This same fear prevents many from obeying Acts 2:38 for they refuse to “yield” to God. And make no mistake about it, Acts 2:38 requires full obedience. Is this why “repentance” is distasteful to some—they fear losing their control? The term “Master” is totally irksome to many.

How many are there just like Herod? Those that will do anything to keep Jesus Christ out of their lives, because they want to stay in control. They may not be as dramatic as Herod. They may not be killing babies, but they are still adamant that they are not going to let Jesus take control.

This world is happy to let Jesus Christ be a baby in a manger, but not willing to let Him be the sovereign King and Lord that He is. Lots of people welcome Jesus as a son of David, but not as the Son of God and less even accept Him as God Almighty.

People do not mind celebrating the birth of a baby, but they do not want to hear about the Lord of lords and King of kings. People are willing to sing about the nativity of Jesus, but they arrogantly reject His authority. People are willing to adore Jesus as an infant, but will not pay homage to Him as God Incarnate.

They can tolerate a manger, shepherds, wise men, and Joseph and Mary one time a year ….but they cannot bear the thought of giving their life to Jesus Christ in a commitment that involves the entire calendar year.

Herod didn’t know. He didn’t know who this child was. He failed to see that this child was God. The Scriptures are clear, “God was manifest in the flesh.” The important question to all is, will you be like Herod, and do everything you can to keep Jesus out of your life? Will you seek to destroy Him that you might retain control? Or will you be like the Wise Men, and seek Him, worship Him, and serve Him? “As many as are led by the Holy Ghost, they are the sons of God.”

He that falls on the rock shall be broken but he whom the rock falls upon will be ground to powder! In the end “every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is LORD.”