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The Dark Side of Christmas

28/12/2018

The Dark Side of Christmas

Text. Matthew 2:13 -23

The birth of the Saviour is a reason to rejoice!. That’s certainly reflected in the biblical narrative of the birth of Jesus. The Magi:- Matthew 2:10 – John the Baptist, Luke 1:41 – Mary. Luke 1:46 – The angels. Luke 2:10 – The shepherds. Luke 2:20 It’s a time of great rejoicing, and rightfully so. But not everyone rejoiced and it is to those tragic events we turn this morning:-

1. The Situation where Evil Flourished.
A group of pagan, gentile astrologers had been led by God to come to Jerusalem. They weren’t sages, they weren’t kings and there may or may not have been three of them. They were people whom the Jews would have despised and had nothing to do with; secular atheists who believed in a pagan form of religion. When then are they part of the narrative of Christ’s birth? God brought these unworthy Gentiles to Christ, just as he had brought the filthy outcast despised shepherds to Christ.
So they reach Jerusalem, and they seek for the one who is born King of the Jews, and they go straight to the palace, – just where you’d expect a king to be born, and they meet Herod the Great, the Roman-appointed King of Israel. It’s fair to say that although Herod was troubled, he didn’t quite believe these men, for he could easily have sent a group of soldiers with the Magi, to take the life of the Messiah. Instead he insists that if and when they find him, they should return to him, so he can go worship too. They do find him, but they don’t return! That’s when we begin to see…

2. The Strategy that Evil Employed.
Evil is personified in Herod. Herod the Great certainly did a lot of infrastructure and construction works but like all tyrants, Herod was a wicked man. He killed his favourite wife, his mother in law, his three sons… He murdered many in his own family, and as he grew older he became totally paranoid, and killed anyone who crossed him. Examine how his rage grew:-

  • Conviction. 2:3 What was it that troubled Herod? This baby was the Messiah, – the God-Man. Was Herod troubled by the thought he would have to meet his maker? Was his conscience convicted? Jesus troubles a lot of people, even though they wont admit it. They are troubled by death, by judgement, by eternity. It troubles them. When Herod was troubled, everyone was troubled, for Herod was unpredictable and dangerous. See the result of Herod’s troubled mind…
  • Anger. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth. Sin never gets better, never resolves itself. Herod was troubled, a worried man, and that led to anger, and eventually that led to murder.
  • Murder. and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. What an awful thing – infanticide. Commentators think that the number of children slaughtered by Herod was between 15 to 30 people. But think of the massive number of children every year who are murdered by the abortionists, legally – often just for convenience. But this murder, and every other infant death, even at the hands of the abortionist meant…
  • Mourning. v17 & 18 Jeremiah was imagining the tears of Rachel as the captives, the people of Israel were being marched away to captivity, passing her grave on the way. Now Matthew uses that as an illustration of the sadness, the weeping of the mothers for their children.

Yet despite all the evil intent of the devil, and his henchman Herod, the Satanic plan did not succeed. Why not?

3. The Shattering of Evil Intention.
Is there ANY good news in this story? Yes. For the evil plans of the devil did not succeed. God overcomes evil with good, and the Saviour’s birth, and the plan of redemption of Gods people cannot be thwarted. We see…

  • Divine Intervention. Look how many times God’s messengers are guiding these events. Poor Joseph wasn’t getting much sleep, he was being warned and guided over and over again in dreams. He is given divine guidance:-
    • Before Herod’s murderous act. V13
    • After Herod’s death. V19. -20
    • When returning to Israel, 21-22

God has entrusted His Son into the hands of the man Joseph, to be his guardian on earth, and yet all the way, God is watching over His Son, and protecting the new born baby. We don’t want to get too technical or theological, but one of the great mysteries of the incarnation is that while the angels were guarding God the Son, incarnate, He was commanding those very angels! See the outworking of those angelic interventions…

  • Divine Protection and Providence.
    • In the Flight to Egypt. v14
    • In Christ’s Humility. v23   It’s very interesting that the passage closes with the statement “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.” This is not a quote from a particular prophet, it’s a a summary of the work of the prophets, and the one who comes closest to it is Isaiah, in 53:2. That’s a fair description of a Nazarene, for people from Nazareth were totally despised, rejected, and lowly esteemed. God’s Son is humbling himself to be a Nazarene, the lowest of the low, and further, to humble himself to go to a cross, and in doing so, to defeat sin and death and the devil. People still despise him. He shall be called a Nazarene by the world, – but to those who are His, who have been redeemed, he is precious.

So in the joyfulness of His Birth, there is the bitterness of sorrow and sin and death as the powers of Satan tried to claw back their lost ground. But nothing could stop the Saviour from his work, to redeem mankind from that very evil.

© BobMcEvoy

From → Bible Study, Matthew

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