Dec 13, 2020. Matthew 2:16-18

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DIAMOND IN THE MUCK.  Matthew 2:16-18. Dec, 13, 2020.

Matthew 2:16-18 [New King James Version]

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,

Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children,

Refusing to be comforted,

Because they are no more.”

  • The popular view of the Christmas story
    • Christmas to most believers is full of angels, wise men, shepherds, a manger, a star, a babe, and a young mom
    • We like the image of God coming to earth as a man
      • God uses a peasant girl as a vessel to introduce the incarnate son to the world
      • We romanticize a long journey, a filthy stable, and a humble family
    • The Christmas story has become cozy, adventuresome,  and without context
  • The context of the Christmas story is less romantic than legend
    • Israel was under the cruel whip of Rome and direct rule of the paranoid tyrant, Herod
    • Life was not easy for the poor of the land
      • A struggle to live and danger lurked everywhere
      • Taxes were oppressive and both Roman soldiers and Herod’s officials took advantage of them
    • As when Israel were slaves in Egypt, the people cried out for deliverance
  • The wise men brought gifts and trouble
    • We think of the wise men making the long 700-mile trip to Israel on camels covering many weeks of travel
    • The Magi were astrologers in southern Persia
      • They probably were familiar with Daniel’s prophecy concerning the “Prince” of Daniel 9
      • They were obviously divinely led
    • Obviously, the image of the wise men arriving on the night of Jesus’ birth is incorrect
      • They came to see the young child (not a baby), who was in a house
      • From Herod’s calculation, Jesus was a toddler
  • Light burst into extreme darkness
    • The visit of the wise men precipitated the death of several boy babies and toddlers (20-30)
    • To kill Jesus, Herod killed all the small boys
      • God sent his son into Egypt for safe keeping
    • These were real babies and boys who died
      • Real mothers and fathers grieved
      • These families and children did nothing wrong
      • This was a shock – a sudden unexpected attack
    • The coming of Christ highlights the wickedness he came to overcome (real babies dying due to the cruelty of a paranoid tyrant is the beginning)
      • Jesus came to bring peace to a world of war, disease, cruelty, crime, and evil of all manner
      • The contrast between the mission of the Lord and the wickedness of the world is highlighted by the wanton murder of helpless children
    • It is the darkness of the world that needed the light
      • We offer the world a Christ who was born to give his life for cheaters, liars, adulterers, thieves, murderers, extortionists, and blasphemers
      • The baby in the manger is the offering for the sins of the world
    • Christ came with purpose and destiny
      • To remember only the babe in the cradle and not the lamb of God on the cross is to miss the point
      • To many in the world, the baby Jesus is all they see (cute, romantic, helpless, endearing…)
    • To miss the Christ slain for us is to still be lost in our sins
      • There is no cross without the cradle
      • There’s no meaning of the cradle without the cross
    • Christmas must always be set in its context to be real