Herod's Christmas Song - I'm All Shook Up

Bible Book: Matthew  2 : 1-12
Subject: Christmas; Birth of Jesus; Herod; Magi; Bethlehem

Herod’s Christmas Song - I’m All Shook Up

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com

Matthew 2:1-12

When Herod heard that Wise Men were seeking the King of the Jews born in Bethlehem, the Bible states that he was “disturbed," or some translations state that Herod was "troubled."” The Greek word translated “disturbed” is the word “tarraso,” which means to “roil or shake.” In this case it spoke of how Herod felt on the inside when he received the word of a possible king other than himself in Israel. He shook from head to toe. He wasn't just worried, he was all to pieces regarding the news.

Angels sang a beautiful song about the newborn king, but Herod’s Christmas song was something like an old Elvis tune called - “I’m all shook up!”

You might wonder why a mighty king like Herod was troubled by a baby born in the obscure town known as Bethlehem. You see, Herod was paranoid that someone was going to take his kingdom from him. He had no faith in God but rather trusted only in his position of power and prominence. In his heart he knew that he was in over his head as king in Israel. In fact, it was said that it was better to be Herod’s pig than to be his son. Why? Herod saw possible challenges to his throne everywhere he looked. He had his wife Mariamne killed and also had the two sons he had with her strangled to death. There were others that Herod got rid of the moment he felt they might oppose him as king. He was not a man you wanted to have as a family member, a friend or much less as an enemy.

You can devise from history that Herod was probably a mentally ill man. In fact, he was likely demon possessed and was being used as a tool of the devil in his attempt to murder Jesus as a child.

You know of course that Herod called for all the male children two years of age and under in the town of Bethlehem to be killed. He did that in the hope of removing any possible rival to his throne. The Bible records the demand Herod made in an attempt to remove this baby rival using a unique word found in the Bible text. The text does say in the Greek language that Herod ordered the male children under two years of age to be killed but what he ordered can be viewed in two ways. An odd Roman law existed that allowed a father to "expose" an unwanted child, meaning that the child could be taken into the woods or desert and left to die due to the elements or to be killed by wild animals. It is a fact that some Romans fathers literally took their children into the wilds as left them in the elements to die. When you consider this as a horrible thought to accept, remember that we authorize the extermination of unborn children through abortion all over the world. People have sought through all generations to find ways to get rid of children they do not want. In the case before us, Herod ordered every male child under two years of age to be killed or placed out in the forest or desert and left to die. He ordered to “put them away.” In the end, the desire of Herod was to destroy Jesus, whom he rightly feared was a greater king than himself. Using the word connected to the Roman Law for exposure of a child gave Herod some cover if parents, Jewish citizens or Romans authorities revolted against him for his action in Bethlehem.

Herod was a cruel and ruthless leader in Israel, and he intended to destroy any person who would possibly be a rival to his position. Indeed, his Christmas song was “I’m All Shook Up,” because he turned his fear into boiling anger and murder.

What is your favorite song at Christmastime? Almost everyone has a Christmas song that comes to mind at this time of year. For some it is, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” For someone else it is, “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” Maybe you like, “I’ll Have a Blue Christmas Without You.” Most Christians think of the beautiful Christmas hymns during this season. “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” or “Silent Night,” or perhaps, “Joy To The World,” may be your favorite. The Christmas songs help us recall the Christmas story and aid us in the worship of the King of kings born in Bethlehem and,born in the hearts of all who know Him as Lord and Savior.

Let’s go back for a moment and ask why Herod was all shook up about the birth of Jesus. Surely a tiny baby didn’t frighten him. Ah, but this Baby did trouble him. Three things were problems for Herod, and they are problems for those today who reject Christ as Lord.

I. The Scripture Shook Herod

We need to remember what Herod did when the Wise Men came and told him that they sought the king who was described in the records of old. The scriptures prophesied such a King, and that troubled Herod as much as anything. Though Herod was not a true believer in God’s Word, he knew that many people believed every word of it, and that might meant that they would back this baby-king born in Bethlehem. So, Herod called in his religious experts to help him discover exactly what the Old Testament scriptures said about this birth. I can imagine the king’s knees were literally knocking when he was told that the Bible did prophesy such a birth. He had to stop this process - he had to destroy the Bible message.

Herod did not know that the Bible is an everlasting Book. In 1 Peter 1:24-25 we read, “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory thereof as the flower of grass, The grass withereth, and the flower falleth: But the word of the Lord abideth forever.” Man is like the grass, for our bodies fade and wither, but the Word of God never wilts or weakens. Poor Herod, he thought he could outwit the God of the Word and destroy the Word of God. That Baby born in Bethlehem’s manger would later say as an adult from His own lips, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Indeed, shortly after seeking to destroy Christ, Herod died a miserable death and went out to meet the God who is everlasting.

The unbelieving world must know the power of the Bible, otherwise why do they work so diligently to destroy it? From the beginning the attack and attempt has been against God’s Word – even before it was written. Go back to the Garden of Eden and you see that the serpent questioned the Word of God. When he confronted Eve, the serpent hissed out the question, “Did God say.” Afterward he actually attacked the Word of God.

Throughout history the attack of Satan has been against God’s Word. When Jesus was tempted in the Wilderness after His baptism, He resisted Satan with one tool and one only – He resisted Satan by repeating to Him the Word of God.

The world today is “all shook up” when it comes to the Bible. Why do you think that there was a successful effort to remove the Bible from American schools? Do you think it was actually separation of church and state? You need to know that in some schools in our country today students are given assignments to read the Koran and to write reports on it. Some are even ordered to write on the tenets of Islam – to write out the five pillars of Mohammad’s so-called message from the angel Gabriel. Yet, to order a child in a school to write out scripture from the Bible could very well get you fired as a teacher today. Why is everyone so afraid of the Bible? Because Satan knows the power of the Word and does everything possible to keep people from it.

This Christmas, like that one long ago when our Lord came into this world, is one which sees people “all shook up” when it comes to the Word of God. Satan knows that people who believe in the Bible will believe in the Author and will believe in the Savior. He can’t have that! So, the enemy does all he can to put the Bible in a can and tighten the lid. Let me tell you something this Christmas – you can’t silence the Word of God! You can’t destroy the Son of God. You can't kill Christmas. Herod tired that and found out the hard way that it doesn’t work and I can assure you that it never will.

But, let’s look at another reason Herod was “all shook up.”

II. The Star Shook Herod

The Magi – the three wisemen – told Herod that they were following the light of a star to find the one who was prophesied to be the king. Perhaps Herod believed in astrology, and in that case the star might well have shaken him as a magical sign. Yet, the stars didn’t control the situation, rather God controlled the stars. It is really interesting to me that palm readers and crystal ball gazers all live in little houses in obscure places by the side of the road. They claim to have the power to read the future, but if they knew the future, don’t you think they would buy the best stocks on the financial markets and become incredibly rich? If they really knew the future, they could be living on a private island with a yacht tied up to their dock. Your future is not locked up or revealed in the stars, but is determined by whether you accept the One who made the stars. All things were created by Jesus and for Him, and He holds all the universe together. Your future is locked up by what you do about Jesus.

You see, the star was a problem for Herod because it spoke of something beyond his reach. The One who made the stars and controlled them was far beyond the power of Herod’s killing squads. What was he to do about that?

In fact, the star was part of God’s plan, for Jesus is the Light of the World. He came to bring people out of darkness and into the light of His glory (John 8:12). Somewhere I read a description of Christ as the light of the world in the following way: “Jesus was the light of the world, shining on the retina of the human soul.” That is a wonderful description of Jesus.

Herod feared someone who could touch the soul of man. Herod could arrest you, beat you and even kill you, but he had no power over the human soul. The star-maker was the soul-shaper, and that became the heart-shaker for Herod - he was all shook up, from head to toe!

The Wise Men came using the Light of the Star to bring them to the Light of the World. Think of how we use lights today. Imagine driving down a busy interstate highway at night when suddenly the lights on your vehicle go out. You can’t see the road in front of your eyes. That would be terrifying and incredibly dangerous. Or, think of a pilot bringing a plane in to land at a busy airport, when all at once the runway lights and landing lights go dark. Herod had no lights to guide him on the highway of life, so he lived in dreadful fear of everything and everyone.

Jesus is the Light of the World who came to give direction, peace and guidance to the human soul, heart and heart. The idea of a star guiding wisemen looking for a rival king frightened Herod so much that he ordered the death of every male child under two years of age in Bethlehem. It is crazy what people will do when they live in the dark with God. Herod is a perfect example.

It is wonderful that God provides light beyond that which strikes our eyes. There is light for the soul, and that light is Jesus Christ. It is little wonder that a star led the Wisemen to Christ. Jesus later said, as recorded in John 8:12, Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” No one need walk in the dark because God sent His Son to be the light to all who will follow Him.

Herod was “all shook up” concerning the scripture and the star, but was one more thing that frightened Herod.

III. The Subservient Wise Men Shook Herod

What did the wisemen say that planned to do when they found the child they sought? They wanted to find the King so that they might bow down and worship Him. Now that got Herod’s attention for sure.

Herod could make people bow the knee to him, but he had no power to cause people to bow in their hearts and minds through free will. The wisemen traveled hundreds of desert miles to bow down to Jesus when he was born - not just bow with their knees but bow with their hearts. What kind of child must this Boy be – this little One born in Bethlehem? Anyone with that kind of power presented real problems to a man like Herod.

The word “worship” which the wisemen used is from the Greek word “proskuneo,” which means to kiss the hand of, to show reverence to, or to bow prostrate before. It is a word of profound reverence that involved placing one’s head on the floor before another.

When Satan tempted Jesus in the Wilderness, he actually asked Jesus to bow down before him and promised to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if He would do so. Jesus answered saying, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” Herod was a human figure of the unseen devil. He wanted men to bow prostrate before him, but they would only do so if forced. Yet, Jesus had wisemen travelling many weeks and many miles to bow down on their faces to worship Him. This subservient love and devotion to the Baby in Bethlehem shook up the worldly king of Israel.

Even though Jesus was born of poor parents, in a lonely little village, and was laid in a trough for feeding animals, the heavens declared His amazing glory. The light and glory of God that fell upon the Temple in the Old Testament was but a precursor to the Light of the World that was born in Bethlehem. Herod could do his best, but he could not snuff out, dowse or extinguish the Light in Bethlehem’s manger. You see, the star of Bethlehem did not belong to the heaven’s but to Christ. The Bible literally calls it “His star.” Matthew 2:2 states, “…For we have seen HIS STAR in the East and have come to worship Him.”

Herod was afraid – he was “all shook up” – but he didn’t have to be. Jesus came to earth because God loved the world – even the world of which Herod was a part. Jesus did not come for good people, but to people living in darkness. He came to be the ONLY Light for souls in the entire human family, for there is none good - not even one. What Herod needed was the faith that the Wisemen had – faith to believe, repent, worship and serve the King of kings.

Let me finish …


Face it, we really like to be in control and we really want to be liked. You can certainly see that by the way we use modern media and technology. Once we found a way to send images of ourselves to almost anyone in the world, people began to take photos of themselves in the most dangerous, lewd and weird poses. Facebook posts, Tweets, emails, blogs, podcasts and other tools are used every day to make ourselves known to family, friends and even to our foes. Many people are dying to be important – literally dying. People seeking to make photos of dangerous acts die almost every day somewhere in the world. Selfie deaths have skyrocketed in recent years. Why?

You see, we all want to matter. We want our lives to mean something. That is what Herod wanted, and he was willing to kill for it. That is what many people want, and they are literally dying for it. You don’t have to kill or die to the important. Jesus died for you on the cross – that is why He was born in Bethlehem’s manger. You matter to God. He gave His Son to redeem you and grant you eternal life in His Kingdom. Do what the Wisemen did – bow to Him – believe upon Him – give Him your heart. Trust the One born in Bethlehem, who went on to live a perfect life, to die on a Roman Cross and to rise from the dead so that you and I might have eternal life.

In essence, every person hearing me today is either a Herod or one of the Wise who bow before the Savior. It all comes down to rejecting God's gift - His Son, or bowing to Him as the Lord and Savior. Which one are you?