The ugly side of Christmas …

When we think of Christmas, it’s easy to think of beauty.

There’s all those pictures of little towns, cozy cottages, and quaint churches wrapped in a soft blanket of snow. Colorful lights decorate homes, Christmas trees glisten by the light of fireplaces, and music of joy and peace plays in the background.

We hear the Christmas story from scripture, telling of a lonesome starry night with shepherds in the field, suddenly disturbed by an angelic announcement and the armies of heaven bursting out in praise. We read of the magi traveling from afar to worship a king. We hear of a magnificent star pointing the way to a manger in which the Savior of mankind rested.

It all sounds so beautiful!

But then there’s the rest of the story …

Not everyone was happy about the birth of Christ.

“Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and have come to worship him.’ King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem‘,” Matthew 2:1-3.

It wasn’t just King Herod who was unhappy to hear about the birth of a new king, the passage above says “… everyone in Jerusalem …” was deeply disturbed by this news. The idea of a new king would be a direct threat to the position of Herod, and could disrupt the status quo too many of the Jews had come to accept in Jerusalem.

A new king could mean someone new in control, someone new on the throne, someone new reigning.

You know how the story goes. The wise men worshiped the Christ child, then quietly got out of town. But so determined was Herod to maintain his own kingship that he ordered the mass murder of little boys …

“Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance,” Matthew 2:16.

For many, Christmas was a threat, and for many others, it was a tragedy. While some rejoiced and worshiped at Christmas, others sought to strengthen their own position and power in view of the challenge Jesus represented to them.

Jesus is still an intrusion on lives today. He has come into this world as more than a Savior, but also as Lord and King. He hasn’t come to give us a beautiful holiday, but a holy life as children of God serving a new king, the King of kings and Lord of lords! For some, that is a threat because they want to be lord of their own lives, they don’t want a king to worship.

What about you? Is Jesus a threat to who reigns in your life? Or is He the King to whom you kneel in submission and worship?