In my last post, I spoke about the very first Christmas gift that Jesus brought into the world after His birth in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite the gift that many had been hoping for. The birth of the Savior was supposed to bring “peace on earth and goodwill toward men” but as we read in Matthew 2:16-18, it instead brought a massacre of the most horrific kind.
“Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.” (Matthew 2:16-17)
For the people of Bethlehem, the coming of the Messiah – their Redeemer and Deliverer – didn’t turn out quite like they thought it would. It was supposed to be filled with joy and peace and goodwill. It was supposed to bring about victory and salvation and deliverance. It was supposed to make everything better.
But it didn’t. It seems to have done the exact opposite. It brought more hate into the world. It brought sadness and confusion. It brought death.
What would you say if you were living in Bethlehem at the time? How would you respond when someone said to you “isn’t it great that Jesus came to our city?” How would you respond?
“Great? Are you kidding me? It’s probably the worst thing that has ever happened to our little town. Everything was fine before He got here. But ever since Jesus showed up, everything seems to have gone wrong.”
Have you ever felt that way? Maybe you’ve never lost a child to a massacre like the people of Bethlehem did, but have you ever felt like “my life was better before Jesus came into it?”
- Like when you’re living away from God for years and experiencing success at work and in life. Then at some point, you realize that you need God in your life and you invite Him in. All of a sudden, things just start going wrong for no reason – stuff comes out of the blue. You know it’s not God’s fault, but it seems like “ever since He’s come into my life, things have gone wrong.”
- Or when you’re living materialistically and selfishly and then you finally decide that you need to be more generous and giving with your money. You have plenty to spare, right? But as soon as you make that commitment to give, you find yourself in the middle of some type of financial disaster or crisis. Things seemed to be going just fine before you tried to do it God’s way, but now it just seems like “ever since He’s come into my life, things have gone wrong.”
- Or when you’re living in sin but you’ve finally had enough – whether it’s a relationship or a sinful habit or whatever. You’ve finally had enough and you decide that you are going to walk the straight and narrow path during this new year. And then, as soon as you make that commitment and start trying to walk that path, you experience temptation like never before – the kind that makes you feel 10 steps behind where you started. And you just can’t help but think to yourself “ever since He’s come into my life, things have gone wrong.”
Here’s the thing that you need to know about Jesus. He is the Savior of the world. He is the Prince of peace who is coming to give peace to all mankind. He is the one and only true Deliverer of His people. He is the answer you’ve been looking for all these years.
But He has an enemy and that enemy is always fighting against His purposes.
In the Biblical account, His enemy was Herod. Herod hated His guts and wanted to do anything he could to kill Him. Why? Because Jesus was coming to reign and be king and that was a job that Herod didn’t want to give up. So he tried to kill Jesus. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t kill Jesus. So what did he do instead? He killed Jesus’ children.
Today, the enemy is just as alive as before. But today his name isn’t Herod; it’s Satan. And he is the enemy of all that is good. The moment you say “I am so excited that Jesus is coming into my life. My life will never be the same. He is going to reign this coming year like never before!” – the very moment you utter those words, he is going to declare all-out war on you and do everything in his power to stop you from getting there.
In Bethlehem, he used swords and clubs to cause the death of 144,000 children under the age of two. Today, he kills at an even more alarming rate and with even more powerful weapons. Weapons like discouragement, or hopelessness, or bitterness, or resentment, or despair. His objective is to get you to give up whatever you started and to say to yourself “I don’t want Jesus anywhere around my life.” That is his goal and he’s pretty good at achieving it.
But we won’t let him fool us. We know who is with us and who is against us. And we’ll never let him who is against us deter us and discourage us from a life with the One who loves us and is always for us.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
For discussion: have you ever felt like “my life was fine before Jesus came into it”? If so, how did you deal with it and how would you encourage others to deal with it as well?