12.28.2008 King Herod vs. The New King

Sermon Audio

12.28.2008 Grace Summit Sermon - King Herod vs. The New King from Grace Summit on Vimeo.

Thank You, Lord – someday we will be with You and live in peace and joy everlasting – we look forward to the holidays – help us to look so much more forward to being with You. Teach us – help our hearts to be prepared – You must speak to our hearts. May I step aside and let You teach.

There was an economic collapse. Things were as bad as they ever were. Unemployment was skyrocketing – most were living in poverty. The political system was corrupt and polluted – people were living in oppression. The nation needed a new leader – one who had a bold new vision for change. He would have to be a powerful man.
The leader introduced one of the largest stimulus packages ever. It is not Barack Obama – it was King Herod the Great. He began his reign of Israel around 30 BC. He went on a building program to completely change the Kingdom of Israel.

My wife made the best Tiramisu you could imagine – and a very large bowl at that – so to keep you awake – I’ll put up a slideshow. If I get boring – you can look at the slides!

Herod was not elected in a landslide – he was not elected at all – he got in there by violently knocking off a number of folks. But he understood that Israel could be critical to building up the Roman Empire. Herod built up Israel – he built and built and built Israel into a vibrant nation that was critical to the Roman Empire.

Two of the greatest accomplishments – Carl Rasmussen – Holy Land pictures -
He built the temple up – There is a model in Jerusalem of the original temple. The model is about the size of our building and parking lot. The real thing was over 1500 feet long. Think about that – think of Cleveland Stadium – you could take 3 of those and put it in. The walls were enormous – 60-70 feet high. It was covered in gold. At the time, it was the highest point in Jerusalem – all you could see was this gleaming shining temple. The temple was incredible – people asked Jesus – what do you think of the temple?
He built theaters, and many things – palaces, government buildings – markets.

Caesarea – In order for Israel to be a viable economy – it needed a port. He used the technology of the day to pour concrete in the water and make a port. They said at the time that this port was probably as great as any of the 7 wonders of the world –

On the port was the Palace – and it had its own palace pool.

The aqueduct – seven miles of aqueduct to bring fresh water into the city.

He built the Theater – a 3000 seat theater – and if you look closely – He invented folding chairs! Ok – those have been added since then because it is still used today.

And the Hippodrome Stadium.

Also – Masada – another palace.

We discover Herod in Matthew
Matthew 2 –

2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him." 3 And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he [began] to inquire of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 And they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet,
6 'And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler, Who will shepherd My people Israel.' " 7 Then Herod secretly called the magi, and ascertained from them the time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, "Go and make careful search for the Child; and when you have found [Him,] report to me, that I too may come and worship Him."

The Magi come to Herod – the king of Israel – “hey, let me know so I can worship him” – Herod was very well accomplished in this world – but he did it in all the wrong ways. He was a violent man and oppressed and killed many. He gave the command to have Jewish boys under the age of two killed – trying to get rid of the competition.
This new king lived completely different.
I’d like to compare and contrast the difference between the king, Herod, with the New King, Jesus.
The Jews were waiting for a king.
Matthew 4: 17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Jesus begins his ministry by announcing a new king and a new kingdom. Israel was looking for a new king – but it was not what they expected

John 18: 36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm."

Matt. 13: - there is a sower and 4 types of soil. Rocks/Hard Ground/Weeds/Good Soil.
This kingdom does not force itself upon people. People must willingly receive this spiritual kingdom. God has given us freedom to choose Him or reject Him. Every person has that freedom and we cannot force it upon anyone. We cannot make people believe. All that can be done is the message can be proclaimed – and people have a choice to make.

Then He tells of the tares and the wheat – the weeds grow up with the wheat. This kingdom is in one sense, a hidden kingdom – He allows it to grow alongside the evil of this world. This kingdom comes in and does not disrupt society – we still have secular authorities – and the people of this kingdom are mixed within. The people of the world come in and try to destroy their rivals. God’s kingdom does not work that way – it is very quiet – it is secret and hidden. When the King left this earth, he had a very small group of people.

The next parable is of the mustard seed – the smallest seed that becomes the largest plant. It starts small, but in the end, in the consummation of this kingdom, it takes over everything.

He talks of the leaven – a little bit influences a lot. He is trying to make it clear – in this kingdom, God begins small and secretly, but works within the hearts of people –and His change oftentimes cannot be seen. Even in our own lives – God is at work inside of us – and we cannot connect with that or see it – but He is still doing that work.

In a number of days, there will be an inauguration. He will come in with big fanfare and promotion – but when Christ came – it was not like that at all. He tried to stay away from the crowd and never sought publicity – he understood that was not the way His kingdom would work – it would come in quietly and then radically change one life at a time. That is how His kingdom grows. It will not happen in the political realm – it happens when we allow that seed to germinate in our own hearts an to fill us and expand to the next person in life. Then it moves out from there.

Matt. 11: 28 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. 30 "For My yoke is easy, and My load is light."

He says – come to me – and I will give you rest. Most powerful people come to control – to use – that is the way the world works. Those in authority often use those who are not to accomplish certain goals for their company or nation.. He is not interested in controlling or using you – but that you might come and find rest.

When you think of a yoke – that which holds us down – they put it on the oxen to pull the plows – it was a way of controlling – but Jesus says His yoke is light – He is gentle and humble of heart.

The requirement for a rabbi – for one to follow him – the higher the rabbi – the ones you really wanted to be with – the requirements for being a student would be harder. His requirement was easy and his load was light. To follow Christ, a person doesn’t neeed – there are few requirements – really only one. We have to put our faith in Him and receive His message. Jesus was continually relieving people of their burden. Other leadership in the kingdom of the world would place more burdens on people – Jesus sought to relieve that that you might find rest.

There was an argument about who was the greatest:
Matt. 20: 25 But Jesus called them to Himself, and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and [their] great men exercise authority over them. 26 "It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. "

Look, in this world – they lord it over and exercise authority – but we look for superiority – we want superpowers and in our sporting events, we want to dominate the other team – and at times, this influences the church. They argued about who was best. Jesus makes it easy to understand what it means to be great in this kingdom – whoever wishes to be great will be the servant. Greatness comes through looking out for others’ well-being. The son of Man did not come to be served.

We come to church – not to get our opinion pushed through, but to serve one another. The power of our life is in making other lives better. In this coming year – in the service to ojur church and one another – ask – How can I serve? Not what can I get, but what can I give? That is how god’s community works.

We will start the book of acts next week – how people live in relationship with one another – people who give up themselves for the benefit of others. For many, this is foreign and impossible to comprehend the level of commitment

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