We all love the account in Luke with the shepherds abiding in the field and the Christ Child in a manger. Away in a Manger, Silent Night, etc., it is an account that lends itself to lovely music and Christmas cards. When we look to the account in the 2nd chapter of Matthew we see another event occurring. This event, known as the Massacre or Slaughter of the Innocents, revolves around the arrival of the wise men from the East who ran into Herod and tipped him off to the birth of the Christ. Herod tried to trick the wise men into revealing the identity of the Christ but the intervention of a dream warned the wise men and they slipped away without telling Herod the identity of his infant adversary.
Herod, as vicious a man as has ever lived, was "troubled" by the coming of a legitimate ruler who would become the King of the Jews. The thought of one who would usurp the pretender Herod was so disturbing that he ordered an response that is horrifying to imagine.
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. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
The coming of Christ was a terrifying event for the rulers and powerful and religious elite of the day, from the moment of His birth to the empty tomb, so much so that they were willing to kill children and crucify the innocent. Is this the Jesus you know?
In our contemporary religious setting we talk so much about Jesus and yet seem to know so little of Him. Our ignorance of Christ, our co-opting of the Gospel, our neutering of the atonement, all are a far greater threat than consumerism during the Christmas season or the eliminating of Christmas pageants in Caesar's schools. I don't care much about putting Christ back in Christmas, I am more concerned with getting Christ back into the church.