“God and Sinners Reconciled”
As we noted yesterday, one of the wonderful things about the nativity story is that it begins to show us glimpses of the worldwide forgiveness of sins, We noted that the effects of sin are not just personal, but worldwide, and that the coming of the Magi shows glimpses of the day when all nations will be at peace and come into Gods kingdom.
However, lest we forget how deeply sin has stained us personally, the nativity forces us to remember that it is not just the world around us that is broken, but that we personally are more in need of saving than we might have imagined.
At the height of the story, Herod finds that he has been duped by the Magi, and still lacks an identity for this future king of Israel. Frightened by the threat to his throne, and enraged by the treachery, he commands his soldiers to enter Bethlehem and slaughter all the baby boys of the small town, and Jesus’s family must flee to Egypt. This is a horrifying picture, but even more horrifying when we fully understand what Matthew is getting at. Remember the story of Moses? It began when the king of Egypt felt his power threatened by God’s people. He commanded the genocide of all Hebrew baby boys, and in the end, God led the Hebrews to the land of Israel. Now, the tables have turned. The land of God’s people has come to look more like the Old Testament land of Egypt, so much so that Egypt now looks like a safe haven in comparison.
In the Old Testament, the response to Pharaoh’s actions was God’s bringing about of the death of all Egyptian firstborn sons whose families would not turn towards the LORD. An act of Judgement that is admittedly hard to wrestle with. In the New Testament, God’s final response to this killing will be the death of his own firstborn son- the only thing that could truly overcome the evil that had so invaded the hearts of even his own chosen people. The Christmas story causes us to wonder, because we see the evil that we as humans have done to God’s son. We remember the response that God had in the Old Testament, we expect it, and yet we marvel that in a shocking turn of events, Christ still chooses to dwell among us in a true act of grace and love.
-How are you often similar to the characters that the Bible depicts as God’s greatest enemies? Take time to reflect on this, and worship God who still desires to forgive and dwell with you.