The Senior Class at Bethlehem High

by DanWolgemuth on December 22, 2017

At roughly 5PM today, our front door will burst open and kids and grandkids will be welcomed with open arms and full hearts. It’s cousin Christmas exchange at the Wolgemuth household and my expectation is high!

One of the ten grandchildren who will climb into my arms is Drew. He’s two years old and full of life. Actually, Drew is so full of life that his two-year-old body can’t quite contain it.

But tonight, as I cling to Drew, my perspective will be different, more reflective, and frankly, a bit more somber.

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. (Matthew 2:16, ESV)

My domesticated and sanitized rendition of Christmas often omits the harsh realities of Christ’s birth. Truth liberates, but it also polarizes and confronts.

Simeon got it right when he said to Mary, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34–35, ESV)

Somewhere between 20 and 30 little boys died in Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus. Parents begged. Families mourned. But Herod’s all-consuming fear propelled him to an act of catastrophic proportion. This wasn’t random or arbitrary. No, it was measured and calculated.

Tears are an important part of Christmas. Perhaps you feel them swell without an apparent cause. Perhaps Matthew’s account helps inform this emotion. The light of the world came at great expense.

This was not a popularity contest; it was war against evil and injustice and power and greed and exploitation. It was light invading the darkness. A fist got raised in Bethlehem. Satan’s rule and reign was under attack. And two-year-old boys died. Full of life and love and hope and promise, but a clear and present danger to the status quo.

Jesus came as a baby, but He was born a King. Before He preached a sermon or performed a miracle, He offended the power-hungry. He enflamed the paranoia of the oppressor. Jesus parachuted behind the enemy lines into the arms of a courageous teenaged mom.

This is why shepherds were beckoned. This is why Wise Men came. The war was on… for the hearts and souls of mankind. And the battle would be bloody, right from the very start.

Hope is costly. And grace is offensive to the self-righteous.
The class of 18, 19 and 20 AD at Bethlehem High School had no boys… a vivid reminder; a poignant picture of the wages of sin.

Christmas is most certainly about a baby… but make no mistake, it’s primarily about a King.

For to us a child is born,
                        to us a son is given;
            and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
                        and his name shall be called
            Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
                        Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6, ESV)

A baby was born… and a fist got raised.

“God and sinners reconciled…” at untold expense.

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