It’s so easy to forget.
With all the bright lights, the cheery music, the shiny decorations, the tasty treats, and the family gatherings, we forget what the scene was really like on that first Christmas.
Glory collided with tragedy.
Unimaginable glory, in the form of a babe, came to earth. Angels literally announced this birth; don’t gloss over the mind-boggling nature of that heavenly incident! God became flesh, and the hope of the universe was born.
But at the same time, King Herod, scared to death for his political power, was planning the slaughter of countless infants.
Celebration collided with mourning. Life collided with death. Salvation collided with depravity.
Glory collided with tragedy.
That’s a summary of the Bible. The glory of God's presence, the glory of his promises, and the glory of his grace collide with the tragedy of sin.
And where do we see the most violent collision of glory and tragedy? On the Cross.
As I’ve been composing my three tweets each morning and looking at our family Christmas tree, I can’t help but remember that this is not the tree that Christmas is about. Christmas is about the tree of Calvary.
On that tree, the glorious plan of God–offering forgiveness, salvation, and transformation–collided with unspeakable tragedy. The only perfect human being who ever lived would suffer an unjust and violent death.
If you were unaware of God’s plan, you would stand at the foot of the Cross and think that Calvary was the worst tragedy ever. But here’s the glory of the Christmas story: the worst thing that ever happened was the best thing that could ever happen.
As we sit beneath our beautifully decorated trees and eat the rich food of celebration, we must not let ourselves forget the horror and violence at the beginning and end of the Christmas story. This story begins with the horrible slaughter of children and ends with the violent murder of the Son of God.
The slaughter depicts how much the earth needs grace. The murder is the moment when that grace is given.
Look into that manger and see the One who came to die. Hear the angels’ song and remember that death would be the only way that peace could be given. Look at your tree and remember another tree—one not decorated with shining ornaments, but stained with the blood of the Son of God.
Because glory was willing to face tragedy, we have hope.
Paul David Tripp
- Think of a way to incorporate Matthew 2:13–18 into your Christmas celebration this year. Why is it necessary to reflect on the bad news of the Christmas story?
- Consider all the tragedy that Jesus experienced during his earthly life. How can you deepen your affection for Christ by reflecting on his suffering?
- Have you experienced tragedy in this life? Why can you move forward, knowing that you have a high priest who able to sympathize?
- How has God taken some tragedy in your life and redeemed it for his glory and your good?
- Who do you know who is experiencing some tragedy or suffering today? How can you comfort them with the Christmas story?