Christmas War (Christmas) – Gospel in Life

Christmas War (Christmas)

Tim Keller |  December 22, 1996

Download Agreement

By downloading this file, I confirm I understand Gospel in Life's Copyright & Permissions policies and agree to only use this file for personal usage and will not upload it to any third-party platforms.


  • Christmas and Advent
  • Jesus' Birth
Matthew 2:13-23
IS 274

Matthew 2:13–23

Christmas, usually told as a happy tale, also includes the harsh rule of King Herod of Judah. He caused Jesus and his family to escape to Egypt, and ordered the killing of young boys in Bethlehem. Though we don’t have other records of this, it fits with what we know about Herod’s violent behavior. This dark side of Christmas teaches us important truths about the gospel, what Christmas really means, and the essence of being a Christian.

1. Being a Christian is a battle

When Christ came, he brought both peace and conflict, as shown in the story of Herod and Simeon’s prophecy. Becoming a Christian gives you a special kind of peace, taking away guilt from past wrongs and helping you find your identity in Christ. But, it also brings new struggles and potential harm. This shows us that the gospel, while it solves problems and brings peace, also brings new challenges.

2. The cause of the battle

Christianity often results in conflict because Jesus claimed to be a king. He didn’t just come to be a personal savior but also a ruler who demands total loyalty. This idea troubled many people, including Herod and the people of Jerusalem. Even as we find peace in surrendering to Jesus, there’s a part of us, known as the flesh, that resists his rule.

3. If you’re connected to Jesus, you’ll face hardship

The violent reactions against Jesus also affected his family and hometown. This teaches us that Christians, as part of Jesus’ family and citizens of his kingdom, will face hardship. Yet, the Bible also suggests that if we’re constantly facing hardship, we might need to check our behavior. Jesus was both liked and disliked, a pattern that his followers should also show.

4. God often uses the looked-down-upon, the unimportant, the things the world doesn’t respect to convey his message

God often works through the unexpected and overlooked, like Jesus, who came from the small town of Nazareth but shared a life-changing message. This message brings both peace and conflict, and leads to a special kind of suffering that heals. The story encourages us to give our pain and suffering to Jesus, promising that this sacrifice leads to a new life.



The Purpose of Christmas

By Tim Keller

Christmas Peace

By Tim Keller

The First Christian

By Tim Keller

June Book Offer

Deepen and Strengthen Your Marriage!

Marriage is one of the most profound human relationships — but it can also be one of the most challenging. So Tim and Kathy Keller designed a devotional book for married couples to use together.