A Nostalgic Christmas (Matthew 2:13–23)
Matthew 2:13–23 - Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord *appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” 2:14 So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. 2:15 He remained there until the death of Herod. . . .
A Gnostic Christmas - God says that "the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). We often complain about the commercialization of Christmas. We complain about taking “Christ out of Christmas.” We complain about the secularization of Christmas. On the other hand we may fall into the saccharine sweetness of a plastic celebration of sentimentality instead of a Savior’s birth. Our text above teaches that we are not celebrating the Incarnation of the Son of God into a world with no Fall, with no sin, with no death and into which there were no enemies. Christmas is not an escape from the real world.
Historic Christmas - In our text (Matt. 2) we have the reality of both Christmas and conflict. We have the Incarnation and damnation, salvation and slaughter, birth and death, a humble King and a proud corrupt king. As we read we see the nativity, mother Mary, righteous Joseph, the shepherds, the angels, the star, the Magi – and yes also Herod, slaughtering children as an act of greed and self-protective power. That is the historic Christmas, the reality, not the Holiday Special. Herod was at the first Christmas. Evil filled the world of Jesus’ birth. Herod’s intentions were very wicked. The grim reality is that Herod only killed thousands. We could find in our own lifetimes many men who have killed many more to guard their thrones. But because of the Incarnation, all despots, all evil rulers who will not kneel at the Manger will perish.
Faith Christmas - The humble circumstances of the birth of the King and the meek manner of His Kingdom’s unfolding tempt some not to believe in the transformation power of the Kingdom first manifest in a Manger. The kingdom was founded upon the “weakest link, a baby” (Oswalt Chambers). But Jesus came to us and though He was rich, He became poor that we might be rich with God. If you are rich with God, may your heart mirror His in your giving and joy. As we rejoice in the Prince of Peace, may we in the coming year be mindful of a world still in conflict and world that is not free from sin, misery and death. Yet the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus has surely come. As Matthew 2:19 says, “But when Herod was dead. . .” May we more and more recognize the presence of the Incarnation of Christ and the transforming power of His incarnational Kingdom, light to the world in Epiphany which foretells the fate of all Kingdom enemies as well as the rescue of His people.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more