by Steve Jones

The Pain of Christmas
Steve Jones
Matthew 2:16

INTRODUCTION: Let's begin today by playing "Name That Tune." I'm going to play some instrumental snippets of traditional Christmas songs and you see how soon you can guess the tune. (Play notes from Jingle Bells, Rudolph, Frosty, Silver Bells, Silent Night and ending with the theme from Jaws.) Now what is that last song doing in there? Christmas songs, by definition, are supposed to be upbeat, joyful and happy because that's the nature of the Christmas story. We don't typically associate songs with a connotation of danger/pain/death with Christmas. But maybe we should for those elements ARE in the Biblical story of Christmas.

Today we're going to be talk about the prophecy of the massacre of the children of Bethlehem who were two years old and under. In this prophecy I want us to see how God deals with our pain at Christmas. Let me begin by setting the scene.

Matthew 2:16 "When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi."

The Magi came to Jerusalem from the East seeking the one born King of the Jews. They interacted with King Herod who wanted them to send word when they found the child in Bethlehem, ostensibly so that he too could go and worship Jesus. Actually, Herod was an elderly paranoid psychopath. Any baby described to him as one born "king of the Jews" would be perceived as an immediate threat to his own rule. The Magi found Jesus but did NOT inform Herod of his whereabouts. They took a different route home than the one by which they came...a route that did NOT take them back through Jerusalem. When Herod found out he was enraged. He ordered the death of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under.

I have often thought about this passage but never preached on ...

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