Revenge at Bethlehem
Our family has always enjoyed Christmas books and movies. As I shared with you on Sunday morning, my all-time favorite Christmas movie is Elf. However, for many years our family always watched the same movie while decorating our family Christmas tree—The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Have you seen it? We love it.
It is based on the book with the same name by Barbara Robinson. It was made into a movie for television in 1983. It stars Loretta Swit in the lead role. The movie is about a church that has an annual Christmas pageant starring the children of the church. This particular year, however, a family of unchurched kids “takes over” the pageant. The Herdmans—Imogene, Claud, Ralph, Leroy, Ollie and Gladys come to church for the first time. Just in time for the pageant. They land the starring roles even though they have never heard the real Christmas Story.
After the assignment of roles and the first reading of the actual Christmas Story from the Bible, the Herdmans return home discussing the story and the play. One of them asks, “What is the name of this play?” Gladys finally replies, “I know what I would call it—Revenge at Bethlehem!”
Well . . . what do you think of that title? I’ve thought about it. And I think I like it!
Remember Genesis 3:15? God spoke a word of judgment to the serpent in the Garden of Eden, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers, he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” God promised to judge Satan as the “seed of the woman” (literal translation) would “crush the head” of Satan.
We also hear God’s voice when He declared, “It is mine to avenge” (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19). God’s vengeance is holy and righteous. In fact, His vengeance is even tempered by and can be expressed through love. The story of Christmas is the story of God’s answer to the sinfulness of humanity. It is God’s expression of love towards all of us (John 3:16). It is God’s offer of redemption to humanity. It is His plan for making all things right.
It is also the expression of God’s triumph over Satan and evil. This baby would become the Savior of the world and the Judge over all creation. All authority was given to Him. He is now known as King and Lord.
His life, death and resurrection signaled the doom of Satan. The temporary victory won in the Garden of Eden was answered in the birth of a baby in Bethlehem.
In a way—Gladys got it right. It really is Revenge at Bethlehem!