Mary Rejoicing, Rachel Weeping
By Timothy Binion
In the December issue of Christianity Today appeared an article entitled “Mary Rejoicing, Rachel Weeping”. Weedy Zona attempted “to reconcile the glorious birth of the Savior and the bloody deaths of the boys of Bethlehem.” I don’t mean to be critical, but this article attempted to reconcile the unreconcilable. However, the title brought a new dimension of thought for me toward the holiday season. The contrast between one of the greatest blessings of life and one of the most devastating events of life, did meet in Bethlehem of Judah.
In connection with the Magi that came from the East paying respect to the King of the Jews, mothers wept over their murdered children, at the hands of the tyrant Herod. This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah according to Matthew 2:17-18 saying, In Raga was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping and great morning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. A mother weeping over the loss of a child is as bad as it gets in this life. However, the joy of a new born in it’s mothers arms is one of the most wonderful events in this life.
Scholars estimate only a few (12-20) babies were murdered by the madness of Herod, but no one really knows for sure. However, if just one child under the age of two were to be murdered today at Christmas time, our church, or community, or family, would in no way be able to maintain a “fa – la – la” season spirit.
The little town of Bethlehem, though known as the birth place of our Lord is also a place of a hideous atrocity. Herod ordered the slaughter of all the boys two years old and under. It is this part of the birth narrative that we refuse to incorporation into the Christmas season. Yet, the confrontation with the forces of evil is why Christ came. Bethlehem became the place where it started and Calvary the place where it ended.
It is foolish to question God’s reason for allowing this tragedy. However, the rejection of God’s Son as KING from the very beginning marks the birth place of our Lord with a mixture of rejoicing \ weeping, star\ sword, life \ death, good \ evil and joy \ sorrow. Perhaps, this best describes the negative influences at Christmas time, that exist in the hearts and lives of many. From those midnight madness sales to the melancholy in church services. Christmas, remains the most stressful time of year both physically and spiritually. Crime increases and depression sours in the hearts of humanity, while many spend what they don’t have and pay for it for the rest of the new year.
Christmas is not always a joyful time for everybody. It can be mixed with much trouble, sorrow and even pain. However, the solution is quite simple; leave Bethlehem and go to the cross where this evil was conquered. God never meant for us to keep Christ in a cradle. God intended for us to crown him King of Kings and Lord of Lords of our lives. Only when we leave the cradle and go to the cross do we experience the changing grace that overcomes death. Here we obtain victory over sin, through faith in the atoning work at Calvary, and victory over sorrow, trials and troubles of this life through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. May your Christmas this year be cross – contacting and Christ – crowning, because in Bethlehem, although Mary rejoiced, Rachel wept.