This is now the second Lord’s Day of Advent, and we continue to prepare ourselves for the celebration of one of the most monumental events of all world history—the time when the Second Person of the Creator God assumed a human body in the womb of a virgin, in order to join us in our sorrow, and to deliver us from it.
This element of sorrow prevents us from viewing Christmas through a sentimental and gauzy lens. The killing of the innocent children by Herod is just as much a part of the Christmas story as the shepherds, the wise men, the angels in the sky, or the manger in which the Maker of all things was placed.
Jesus came into a sinful world, in which realistic politicians took the measure of the situation, and did what they had to do. The world is a very different place from what it was two thousand years ago, much of it for the better, but we are still taking the lives of inconvenient infants. The work that Jesus came to do, that of throwing down all the idols, is not yet complete.
We do not just prepare for a Christmas full of delightful sentiment, family time, and happy nostalgia—although all this things are acknowledged and embraced by us. We celebrate Christmas, and everything that follows, as an act of war.
War? What about peace on earth, good will toward men? Jesus also said that He did not come to bring peace on earth, but rather a sword. How may this be reconciled? Jesus is the prince of peace, but the peace He brings is not the peace of dithering diplomats, who like nothing better than talk, talk, talk. Our Lord Jesus does bring peace, but He does so as a conquering king. He brings peace through superior firepower.
That firepower is not carnal, but it is potent, and the principalities and powers (those that are left) tremble at the might wielded by a faithful Christian church, uncontaminated by idols, worshiping God in the spirit of holiness.
And so we are preparing to say to one another, “Merry Christmas!” And we sing to one another about the inauspicious beginning of Christ’s conquest—”Away in a manger, no crib for a bed.” But we also see, with the eye of faith, the end of the process—””He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found.” And so in Christmas, we turn to the principalities and powers (those that are left), conduct our celebrations, and all God’s people say, “Take that.”