When we think about the birth of Jesus this time of year most people focus on the joy that Jesus brought. And it certainly is good to focus on the joy of his birth and our salvation. This season is filled with decoration, family time, presents, and talk of our Lord and Savior. There was a lot of talk when Christ was born because people had been waiting for the consolation of Israel. The Jewish people were well aware of prophecies that pointed to a Messiah.
What took the world by surprise, however, was the edict by King Herod to have al the male children in Bethlehem killed: “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men” (Matthew 2:16 ESV).
This dark time in Israel added to the people’s pain, desperation, and need for consolation. They had endured so much at the hands of evil people and were waiting for a savior to come. Jesus was not born in a vacuum. He was born during a very dark time and even was himself at risk. His parents fled to Egypt for a long time. When they returned Joseph was too afraid to go to Judea and was warned in a dream to divert to Galilee. It should give us comfort to know that God hears the cries of his people, to understand that Christ came to bring salvation to a suffering world. There are plenty of people today who are desperate for the Savior to rescue them. We should remember the people who are suffering as we celebrate the birth of Christ.