THE CHRISTMAS STORY HAS been so sanitized and romanticized over the centuries that even Hollywood—as jaded a culture as can be found anywhere—fails to capture the gritty pathos that surrounded Jesus' arrival.
THE CHRISTMAS STORY HAS been so sanitized and romanticized over the
centuries that even Hollywood—as jaded a culture as can be found
anywhere—fails to capture the gritty pathos that surrounded Jesus' arrival.
Truth be told, even some churches annually idealize the birth of our
Savior. Yet it was anything but ideal.
Without question, 6 BC was a lousy time to live in Judea. Herod the Great
had seized the throne of Israel through bloody intrigue and with political
support from Rome. Then, once in power, he guarded his stolen title, "King
of the Jews," so ruthlessly he even put his own sons to death when any of
them posed a significant political threat.
Herod, though not Jewish, pretended to be a pious religious Jew by
eliminating pork from his diet, but he indulged an insatiable appetite for
power. He built a magnificent temple for the God of Israel—an architectural
wonder in its day—and gave its administration to one corrupt high priest
after another. He taxed Jews through the temple in keeping with the Old
Testament law and then used the proceeds to break the first commandment,
building cities and temples in honor of the emperor and his pantheon of
The larger Roman Empire—bounded on the west by the Atlantic, on the east by
the Euphrates, on the north by the Rhine and Danube, and on the south by
the Sahara Desert—was as vast as it was vicious.
The first Christmas, all eyes were on Augustus—the cynical Caesar who
demanded a census to determine a measurement for increasing taxes even
further. At that time, who was interested in a young couple making an
eighty-mile trip south from Nazareth? What could possibly be more important
than Caesar's decisions in Rome . . . or his puppet Herod's edicts in
Judea? Who cared about a Jewish baby born in a Bethlehem barn?
God did. Do you?
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live
in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.
His light still shines. Do you see it?