The Christmas story is not a story just of joy. In the middle of Matthew 2, there is a citation from the prophet Jeremiah concerning the prophecy concerning the Slaughter of the Innocents of Herod’s wrath after being denied information as to Jesus’ whereabouts. Jeremiah 31:15 is what is cited, concerning the mothers who lost their babies.
In this Christmas whilst we can rejoice at the coming of Christ to us, we need to bear a thought of those who sacrificed in that time, and that injustice. Herod was so overtaken with wrath that all babies born around the time of Jesus were to be killed. Imagine the cries that went up to heaven!
Sacrifice prepares the way for security…
Noone can underestimate the pain of loss. Many this year 2020 have had losses of various kinds. Yet whilst we suffer intolerable pain there is a promise of another Comforter. Whilst those babies entered eternity early, Jesus was being secured to bring a greater more enhanced comfort than Rachel who weeps for her children. When we weep deeply, broken hearts, there is growing in heaven a secured way for our eternal and spiritual comfort. This is the consolation of this whole scenario. It is that Matthew 2 embraces the joys of the Coming of the Messiah, but He came at a cost. This year we may have had our “slaughter” in various ways, but Jesus is born within us, growing in us to walk us into a comfort which does not come from a change of mindset, but a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit.
I have been through 2 great losses, in my own walk of 30 odd years, and those 2 occasions I experienced the heavenly preparation. The first was in prayer in my first Church near Nottingham. The second was in my home in Portugal. Those losses were so mind shattering, so emotionally devastating, that it is totally supernatural for all who passed through those and came out and walked with God in these years subsequent to these events. The security here is that we must trust that Jesus will walk us into the greatest comfort if we would be comforted.
The Biblical definition of comfort denies a superficial definition from the world
In studying “Comfort” or “Consolation” I came to realise there are 2 men in Scripture whose names means “Comfort” “Consolation”. They are Noah and Nehemiah. They are men who experienced the devastation close up. Yet they come with a solution, Noah with his ark and his family. Nehemiah comes with palace favour and friends with a vision. God walks them through devastation and makes a new start through them. Here the challenge is to become a vessel of consolation even though we are totally broken from within. What did both of them do?
Noah: Built an ark for 120 years to be a channel of security and comfort in the midst of destruction.
Nehemiah: Prayed, wept and fasted and God opened a door through the King to rebuild
God places in our way the vehicles of our consolation. That is in contrast to Rachel who would not grasp any comfort God could give would stay the rest of her life clutching her dead babies.
God started mankind afresh through Noah, and through Nehemiah God restored the fortunes of Jerusalem.
Does not the Scripture say: He who sows with tears shall reap with joy?
The Consolation of the Church
2020 for the Church has been a trying year in every aspect as it walks through the panic and fear. The Lord Jesus spoke to His Disciples that He would depart, whilst their heart may be sad, so a greater Consolation was coming in the Person of the Holy Spirit. He would take all that was Jesus and impart that to them, and to us also.
It is time to be like Noah and Nehemiah and make our tears, our fear be a preparation for a new start. We cannot subscribe and accept what brings destruction. For Noah, the flood was judgment for corrupt mankind. For Nehemiah the destruction of Jerusalem was for the departure of the whole nation away from the covenant of God. Bad things happen, and there is always a cause. If the cause is wholesale sin, God has provided Jesus for our ultimate comfort.
When Jesus approaches Jerusalem in Luke 19 He weeps over her. He is looking down the future, about 40 years in front. He sees General Titus riding in destroying the city. It is cited in ancient history that the only building standing intact was the building where the Last Supper and where the Pentecost Outpouring began the Church. Yet Jesus says it must be so for the expansion of the faith amongst the nations.
Whilst “our affliction being momentary brings a weight of glory” says Paul, we must grasp our hearts and believe that through His Word comes a greater comfort, consolation which we could not produce, but is given to us in His Person, poured out in our being.
Let us believe as we celebrate this Christmas, after a year of great anguish that Jesus is coming to us with great consolation, which is in Himself, the Prince of all Peace and Consolation!