The King Who Couldn't Kill Christmas
Pastor Darrell Johns
Herod was power-hungry and political. He also was petrified of any perceived or real threats to his throne. When wise men from the East came to Jerusalem inquiring about the birth of the King of the Jews, Herod’s paranoia reached a fever pitch. “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Matthew 2:3).
Herod commanded the Jewish theologians and scholars to search the Old Testament Scriptures for clues that might lead him to the birth of this alleged king. The information was right there in the Bible but, perhaps, difficult to find among the many scrolls of Scripture. The scholars advised: “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’” (Matthew 2:5-6).
Lying and manipulation came easy for Herod. He was a studied and schooled diplomat. Herod knew the city where the King would be born. Now he needed to know the timing. Herod asked the wise men when the star that announced the birth of Christ first appeared. The trusting wise men offered the information without suspicion. Evidently, it had been about two years since they had seen His star in the East. This is surmised based on the actions of Herod. (See Matthew 2:16.)
Herod pretended to be overjoyed at the news of the birth of a competing king. He sent the wise men on their way to Bethlehem and told them, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also” (Matthew 2:8). In reality, worship was the last thing on Herod’s mind.
The wise men traveled toward Bethlehem. The star they had seen in the East reappeared and guided them to the precise place where Jesus—now a toddler—could be found. They presented Jesus with their treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The wise men planned to return to Herod, trusting that the ruling monarch would go to Bethlehem to worship Jesus as he had said. However, the Lord warned them in a dream to return home a different way. You can read the story yourself in the second chapter of the Book of Matthew.
While he waited, Herod must have been nervously pacing and battling panic attacks. Where are those wise men? Why have they not come back to disclose the location of the child? He was growing impatient. Finally, Herod learned that the wise men had gone home a different way. He felt deceived and was “exceedingly angry.” (See Matthew 2:16.)
Herod’s decree reveals just how heartless and ruthless he was in executing his power. It also demonstrates the depth of his depravity. Herod sent word ordering that all male children two years old and younger in the city of Bethlehem and surrounding suburbs be put to death. You could say that Herod fully intended to kill Christmas.
It was a bloodbath. Mothers of murdered baby boys wept and could not be comforted. Herod smiled a sinister smile. The dastardly deed was done, and Herod surely believed that he had killed Christmas.
But God, who knows all things, preempted Herod’s plot. The angel of the Lord warned Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him” (Matthew 2:13). Joseph, the obedient man, fled to Egypt with his family and remained there until Herod’s death.
Despite all of his pernicious power, Herod could not kill Christmas. Of course, behind the plot to kill Jesus was the power behind the throne: Satan himself. Satan has been hatching plots at the gates of Hell since the beginning of time. But, in the same way that Herod could not kill Christmas, Satan and all his allies cannot kill what God has birthed. In fact, God knows in advance the devices devised by Satan to thwart the purpose of God. The Lord uses Satan’s plots to further His plan and fulfill His will. (See Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; 1 Corinthians 2:8.)
But some may say, “Hold on, you are ignoring the facts about the eventual death of Jesus Christ that was authorized by another Herod. Did he not put the Christ of Christmas to death?” The answer is “No!” Herod did not kill Jesus. Rome did not kill Jesus. The Jewish mob did not kill Jesus. Jesus predicted His death and said that no one would take His life from Him. He laid down His life. (See John 10:17-18.) The death of Jesus on the cross was the premise of God’s plan from the beginning. (See Revelation 13:8.) Neither Satan nor Herod could change God’s timing or plan for the birth and death of the Messiah.
Woven into the fabric of the nativity of Jesus Christ is the story of the king who couldn’t kill Christmas. But there is a takeaway in this story for you. God has given you promises. He has a plan for your life. Never forget that whatever God proposes, Satan opposes. The Devil will do everything in his power to destroy what God has purposed in your life. But, the story of the king who couldn’t kill Christmas is a vivid reminder that whatever God has promised, He is able also to perform. (See Romans 4:21.) If you will walk in obedience to God’s voice in your life through His Word and His Spirit, nothing can keep God’s plan from coming to pass.
As you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, do not be confused by the chatter in our culture that tries to silence the story. Remember that Satan cannot kill what God has birthed. Just ask the king who couldn’t kill Christmas.