Summary: Christmas did not eliminate evil and suffering, but it gives us the hope that one day God will eliminate evil and suffering.
Title: What Christmas Did Not Do
Text: Matthew 2:13-23
Truth: Christmas did not eliminate evil and suffering, but it gives us the hope that one day God will eliminate evil and suffering.
Aim: hope and encouragement
(Outline: lifeway.com, Jeff Griffis)
Christmas Sunday the pastor planned to visit the preschool Sunday School class. The teacher, wanting to impress the pastor had each child draw a picture of some part of the Christmas story. The teacher put the art work on the wall and the preacher came. He was impressed as he identified each drawing’s meaning. There was one with a barn and a man and a woman—Joseph, Mary, Jesus, and the manger. Another picture had sheep, men, and angels in the sky—the shepherd scene. One picture was a caravan of camels and a star in the sky—the wise men. But there was one picture that puzzled him. The child drew an airplane with three figures in the back and one up front. He thought and thought but finally had to ask what it meant. The preschool artist spoke up and said, “It’s Jesus’ flight to Egypt!” “OK,” said the pastor, “but who is that up front?” “Oh,” said the artist, “that’s Pontius the pilot.”
Matthew 1 and 2 tell us about the birth of Jesus Christ. We’re familiar with the story of God announcing His entrance into the world through His Son. We’re familiar with the angel’s announcement to the shepherds and the wise men bringing their gifts. But this next scene in Matthew is not so often portrayed in our Christmas dramas.
We celebrate and recall the angel’s announcement, “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” We rejoice in the angel’s disclosure that this child is Immanuel, “God with us.” But it’s too disturbing to think of Herod’s order to kill all the boys in Bethlehem that are two years of age and younger. Can you think of a Christmas hymn that recall the words of scripture “Rachel weeping for her children?” Maybe our neglect of this passage has deprived us of the hope God wants us to have when life is difficult.
When our nation experiences a profound act of evil like the murder of the adults and children in the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, we ask why. Maybe one answer is found in a passage like this. The answer may be unsettling. There are some things that Christmas did not do. Let’s talk about what Christmas did not do and then what Christmas did do.
Matthew is proving that Jesus is the legitimate Messiah of Israel. He fulfills the prophecies of Scripture. But the world’s response to their Messiah is hostility. This opposition to Jesus wasn’t just at the end of his life, but it was expressed at the beginning of his life. Even at His birth there was this horrendous clash between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.
Matthew’s book is a gospel tract to convince us that our Savior is Jesus, but it is also an encouraging word to the followers of Jesus. Don’t be discouraged if it is difficult being a Christian. Jesus didn’t get a free pass from hardship even though he was the Son of God. There are some things that Christmas did not do and some things it did do.
I. WHAT CHRISTMAS DID NOT DO
Christmas did not eliminate evil. Until recently it would have been hard for us to imagine someone so evil that they would murder innocent children. Herod was such a man. He was no different than Assad in Syria that has killed 30,000 of his own people. He was as self-absorbed as the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, that could have fed his starving nation with the money he has spent on his space program. Herod conspired to drown his brother-in-law because he became too popular as High Priest. He murdered two sons because he thought they were conspiring against him, he murdered his mother-in-law, and in a fit of jealousy killed his wife. It led Augusta Caesar to say, “It is better to be Herod’s dog than Herod’s son.” Scholars estimate that 20-30 babies died that day in Bethlehem and the surrounding area. The birth of the Son of God did not eliminate evil.
Someone said that the most provable doctrine of the Christian faith is the total depravity of man. The doctrine of total depravity doesn’t mean that we are as bad as we could be, but that every part of our humanity is stained by sin: our emotions, our reason, our spirit, and our body. Fundamentally, we are rebels before God. We resist His will in our lives. Yes, the image of God within us, though marred, results in people being amazingly good and loving at times. You see that in the adults sacrificing their lives to save the children at the Sandy Hook school, but there is another side to human beings.