Whenever I think about or read the second chapter of Luke my mind will go to A Charlie Brown Christmas and the narration reciting this chapter of the Bible. Then my mind goes to the commercialization of Christmas. I try not to stay there long. Then my mind goes to Christmas memories, some way back, some more recent, some good, some not so good.
After a moment my mind will return to the true meaning of Christmas. The announcement and birth of The Messiah. Things like that. Not to make this post a Bible study, but, if you go to verse ten of the second chapter of Luke, it says, “And the angel of the Lord said, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people.’
As I read this again and again the following words jump out at me. Good news, great joy, for all the people. This birth, this Child, was to bring with it all these wonderful events. If you take this scripture and separate it from any other it plainly says that all the people on the earth will receive good news and great joy because of the birth of this child, the Messiah.
That all sounds great doesn’t it? Who would not want that to be a part of that story?
Now go the other account of the birth of Christ in the second chapter of Mark and go to verse 16. By the way, a little background. Herod, was a really evil king who was looking for this Child, the Messiah. If he could find him he was going to have him killed to lessen the threat against his reign. He was tricked by the Magi who had found the Child but did not return to tell Herod where he could find him. Now you are caught up, kind of.
Verse 16 says, “Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the Magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew (slaughtered) all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under.”
Let that sink in. A whole generation of males were slaughtered because the king could not find the one he wanted to kill. Now remember, the other verse said, good news, great joy, for everyone.
Where was the good news for these families? These parents whose door of their home had been kicked in and their young infant son murdered in front of them, the mother in the street whose child was ripped from her arms to have him trampled by the hooves of the soldier’s horses and then impaled by a spear or sword. Where was the good news for these people?
I wonder. Go with me on this. I wonder, if somewhere as Jesus grew older that one of the parents of the young boys killed would have ever crossed his path, and would have looked at Jesus and thought, “So that this man might live we had our son taken from us and killed?” I wonder if one of the fathers ever thought, “What type of loving father would find good news in having his son killed so that someone else might live?” I wonder if one of the mothers of a male child would have seen Mary, the mother of Jesus and thought, “This mother will never know the pain I have suffered so that her son might live. She will never know what it is like to have her son taken away from her by angry men and soldiers and murdered so that someone else might not die. She will never know what it is like to feel as though a sword has pierced her very soul because of the loss of a son.”
Where is the good news in all of this? I can not answer that question because I can not see the overall plan as it relates to loss and gain being weighed out in the plan of God. Even as I am writing I stop to consider this and can not comprehend the loss to these parents nor the gain to “all the people.”
I am most certain however, that the good news is actually found in the fact that the son who was spared at birth is the same son who was to lose his life as a young man of thirty three years old, roughly the same age that the young murdered sons would have been. Yet again, good news is accompanied by tragedy, by loss, by suffering, by pain, by sadness and by death.
With my very limited capacity to understand, I must rest on the fact that God is big enough and compassionate enough to lovingly take care of those innocent young children who were killed and their parents who were left. That God is such a loving God that only He can fully understand how such loss can bring about Hope.
Fortunately they did not include this type of thought in A Charlie Brown Christmas. However, if it had been presented to Charlie Brown and he was asked for a response I am pretty sure he would have said, ” Oh, good grief.”