The tragedy at Sandy Hook is now seared into our national consciousness. In the aftermath of the massacre, I found it difficult to think about Christmas. Gift-giving, decorations, and pleasantries all seemed totally out of place in the wake of such a monstrous event. A Facebook post by our brother Michael Chung (Pastor at Indelible Grace Church) helped to reorient me:
Let us not forget that the original Christmas began with the massacre of innocent children in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16). The birth of Jesus is not a blithe, willful ignorance of the pervasive evil in this world, but a full-scale assault on Satan's stronghold. Satan launched the first of his counterattacks in Bethlehem through his proxy, King Herod, but the joy of the gospel is that Jesus has decisively defeated evil on the cross. And one day, in the Resurrection, when King Jesus returns, everything sad will come untrue.
Christmas is not pleasant; it is not quaint; it is not sentimental. Christmas is an act of warfare. Moved by love for his creation, God descended in the flesh to fight the forces of evil. We are utterly incapable of defeating the powers of darkness. Indeed, we are held under their sway. As Solzhenitsyn said;
If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
Jesus came to defeat the works of the evil one, and to defeat the evil within us. He suffered our destruction to achieve our re-creation. Sandy Hook is a tragic reminder that evil is as real as ever. Christmas is a reminder that God is committed to defeating evil; so committed that he enters the chaos in our stead.
Let us remember the depth of our depravity. Let us weep with those overcome by grief, and seek to comfort them. And let us remember the humble child in the manger.
But let us remember that this child is also the ferocious Lion who dealt a fatal blow to the dragon, and will soon return to crush his head.