“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.” Matthew 2:16
The first Christmas wasn’t full of joy for some momma’s and daddy’s. Because of the first Christmas, scores of boys were killed by government authorities. Future Christmas’ for many heartbroken parents weren’t celebrated with tidings of comfort and joy. They were remembered for the time a scared and jealous king killed their son.
Last night the Pearson 5 tuned into NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Me (37), Katie (36), Luke (9), Seth (7), and Birti (7) all watched as Mr. Williams reported on the massacre in Pakistan where 145 people/children were killed in a school yesterday. That story was followed by another where 2 were shot and killed while being held hostage in Sydney, Australia. In the middle of one of the stories, Luke asked aloud what we were all thinking: “Why do people do that?”
Great question, son.
I am sure one of the sisters of one of the boys whom Herod killed that first Christmas season asked their parents the same thing. “Why would Herod do this mommy?”
In short, we live in a world sick with sin. The world God originally intended (see Genesis 1 and 2) is now groaning to be put back together (see Romans 8:22). When Adam and Eve sinned in Genesis 3, all hell (quite literally) broke loose. Everything was subject to futility (see Romans 8:20). Translation: everything in all creation is going crazy due to sin. Herod killed all the boys 2 years old and younger for the same reason men held innocents hostage in Sydney and gunmen killed innocent children in Pakistan yesterday: sin, fear, jealousy, greed, power, and deception.
But here’s the thing: the first Christmas was the dawning of all things being made new again. Jesus has come to repair what was broken. Jesus was sent by the Sovereign Creator to restore what we messed up. He’s bought the right to have all authority in heaven and on earth. He is coming again to put everything back as it should be. In the meantime, our job is to help as many sin sick people as possible know this news, pleading with them to trust in this Jesus who has come and is coming again.
Our hope is not in the here and now. It’s in the “what is to come.”
Our job is to urge others to know about this hope that we have.
I don’t know what all the parents of the boys Herod killed that first Christmas knew and understood. I simply cannot imagine, fathom, nor have any categories for how they felt. But what happened (the death of their boys due to Herod’s sinful heart) and what caused the event (Jesus’ birth) simultaneously demonstrated the need for, and the answer to, this world needing a Rescuer.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel.