How could Herod miss Christmas? How could he hear the Wise Men coming so far to find this baby, and not recognize the signs? I don't want to be like him. How can I honor Jesus this Christmas?
Good question! So many of us miss the true meaning of Christmas. In Orange City, Fla. -- A mob of shoppers rushing for a sale on iPads trampled the first woman in line and knocked her unconscious as they scrambled for the shelves at a Wal-Mart Supercenter.
Patricia VanLester had her eye on a $50 iPad, but when the siren blared at 6 a.m. Friday announcing the start to the post-Thanksgiving sale, the 41-year-old was knocked to the ground by the frenzy of shoppers behind her.
"She got pushed down, and they walked over her like a herd of elephants," said VanLester's sister, Linda Ellzey. "I told them, `Stop stepping on my sister! She's on the ground!'"
Ellzey said some shoppers tried to help VanLester, and one employee helped Ellzey reach her sister, but most people just continued their rush for deals.
"All they cared about was a stupid iPad," she said Saturday.
Paramedics called to the store found VanLester unconscious on top of an iPad, surrounded by shoppers seemingly oblivious to her, said Mark O'Keefe, a spokesman for EVAC Ambulance.
She was flown to Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, where doctors told the family VanLester had a seizure after she was knocked down and would likely remain hospitalized through the weekend, Ellzey said. Hospital officials said Saturday they did not have any information on her condition.
"She's all black and blue," Ellzey said. "Patty doesn't remember anything. She still can't believe it all happened."
Ellzey said Wal-Mart officials called later Friday to ask about her sister, and the store apologized and offered to put an iPad on hold for her.
Wal-Mart Stores spokeswoman Karen Burk said she had never heard of a such a melee during a sale. "We are very disappointed this happened," Burk said. "We want her to come back as a shopper."
Somebody missed the meaning of Christmas.
If there had been a baby there they would have killed it.
Many court rulings outlaw religious songs, at Holiday concerts. They killed the Baby.
If we are not careful, we can go through the entire Christmas season and miss Christmas. It happens to people all the time—we might as well kill the Baby.
I want us to get Christmas right as we go through the holiday season.
We are not the first to kill the baby.
King Herod began the tradition. In fact, he took it literally. He killed about 200 of them at the first Christmas time.
Matthew 2:1-3: After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
Zoroastrians were the King Makers of the ancient world. This is a big deal—especially to Herod who is the King of the Jews.
Herod was not really a Jew. Dad, not mom was a Jew. He was an army general who made friends in Rome. He rose to power as a tetrarch, a petty king because of delivering land and taxes to Rome.
Herod hobnobbed with the rich and famous. In a civil war between Caesar and Pompey, he choose the right side. The right side was with Mark Anthony against Brutus and Cassius—Fortress of Antonio ruins—where Pilate interviewed Jesus.
The wrong side with Mark Anthony and Cleopatra versus Octavian—Caesar Augustus.
Herod killed his own sons in plot to give power to Augustus: “I would rather be Herod’s hus (pig) than his huis (son).”
There is no doubt what he intends to do with a rival.
Matthew 2:4-6: When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: "'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'"
Matthew 2:7-9: Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him." After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.
This was a rather unusual star. It was a confluence of Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Venus in 7 B.C.
Jesus was born 7 years before Christ. The calendar was messed up. King Herod died in 4 B.C., so Jesus had to be born before that.
The Scripture says that the Star moved—perhaps it was a specially designed light just for the occasion.
Matthew 2:10-12: When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Matthew 2:16: When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
Jesus, at this time, was not in the manger—note the previous verse, now living in a house. Perhaps a year or two after the birth—that is why Herod said to kill all babies 2 years or younger.
It is time to be celebrating the Baby—and Herod is killing babies.
King Herod missed the peace, love and joy of Christmas.
He was known as Herod the Great. He built monumental building projects to make people love him: Herod’s Temple in Jesus’ time was glorious. But he lived a terrified man.
Herod was instructed and told about Messiah—but he missed it all. He was afraid of the Savior—he had no idea what it was all about.
Herod died a miserable man with a miserable death—His symptoms recorded for posterity.
Venereal disease when accompanied by deterioration of the heart and kidneys, would result in the symptoms described. Bodily poisons would not be excreted properly and would accumulate in the blood, causing general itching, sharp, constant abdominal pain, diarrhea, and possible ulceration of the bowels. In extreme cases, which is plainly what we're dealing with here, the scrotum could become distended and gangrenous, at which point a lesion might well become infested with maggots, personal hygiene not being a priority back then. Now that’s a disgusting, horrific death.
Herod had misplaced hope: politics, materialism, sensual things, building projects—all hopeless endeavors.
We put our hope in cars, savings accounts, houses, presents, jobs. This is a recipe for hopelessness.
That is how we miss Christmas.
Don’t place your hope for a successful Christmas with money and presents.
How quickly the toys grow old! You want something that will last.
All of this reminds me of Brad Pitt.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Brad Pitt reflected on what it means to have the American dream and yet remain unsatisfied:
Pitt: “Man, I know all these things are supposed to seem important to us—the car, the condo, our version of success—but if that's the case, why is the general feeling out there reflecting more impotence and isolation and desperation and loneliness? If you ask me, I say toss all this—we have got to find something else. Because all I know is that at this point in time, we are heading for a dead end, a numbing of the soul, a complete atrophy of the spiritual being. And I don't want that.”
Rolling Stone: So if we're heading toward this kind of existential dead end in society, what do you think should happen?
Pitt: “Hey, man, I don't have those answers yet. The emphasis now is on success and personal gain. I'm sitting in it, and I'm telling you, that's not it. I'm the guy who's got everything. I know. But I'm telling you, once you've got everything, then you're just left with yourself. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it doesn't help you sleep any better, and you don't wake up any better because of it.”
By the way, Brad Pitt grew up “…Brad himself was brought up in a typical Mid-Western town, Springfield, Missouri, the oldest son of devout Baptist parents.”
What did he miss?
Luke 2:13-14: Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men."
Ah, that’s what Christmas is all about.
Why is Christmas so important?
Because the world did not become a place of peace, love, and joy at His first coming.
The four candles of Advent represent:
We live too much in a world of war—not peace;
I recently reread “All Quiet on The Western Front (WWI); Hiroshima (WWII); We Were Soldiers Once and Young (VietNam).
We live too much in a world of misery—not joy;
We see devastation, mass murders and starvation.
We live too much in a world of hatred—not love.
However in the heart of all men and women is something better. We long for a better world. While the promises of the First Coming will be fulfilled at the Second Coming, deep down inside we long for our world to be a better one right now.
This is the meaning of Christmas.