December 27 I Sunday

Zechariah 1-4

Revelation 18

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” —John 1:4-5

Herod the Great was known for many things, such as the rebuilding of the Second Temple. In many ways, Herod was great in that he could mobilize and build structures, but there was a whole other side to him that was not so great. He was ruthless and cruel; in fact, he killed his wife, her two sons, her brother, her grandfather and her mother.

We encounter Herod the Great in the Christmas story, as he was the one who secretly sent the wise men from the East to Bethlehem, when they inquired of him where they could find the King of the Jews. But when these wise men did not report to Herod what they found, he did something unthinkable. “[Herod] 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” (Matthew 2:16).

Imagine being one of the parents in the region of Bethlehem, what would it have been like when a soldier showed up at the door demanding to take away the baby boy, forcing him out of the parents’ arms and then putting him to death? These children were innocent and their parents wept not only because of the pain and the injustice, but also because of the savage way that their children died.

This story reminds us that evil does exist and it is real in this world. As despairing as these events are, the Prince of Peace has come to bring an end to this evil. Embedded in Matthew’s account is the Old Testament prophecy from Jeremiah 31:15, “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” This prophecy is found in the middle of Jeremiah’s writing that is filled with comfort, consolation and joy. Beyond the grief of death is the dawn of a new age that will come with the Messiah—there will be a salvation that will pave the way for everlasting peace and righteousness. Out of the chaos of violence and death at the hands of wicked rulers, there will come a new covenant bringing forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit and eternal life.

Matthew knew that Jesus was the Messiah, so when he reported the killings of the innocent children in Bethlehem, he immediately saw the parallelism to Jeremiah’s day. Once again, God will bring life out of death, and consolation out of suffering. Even from the beginning of the Christmas story, we see the stark contrast that the Light brings to the darkness of the world.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, even with all the evil in this world, I do not need to fear, because You are the Light shining in the darkness. Thank You, Lord.

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