Christmas and the Sting of Personal Loss: An Interview with John Piper and Paul Maier

Christmas and the Sting of Personal Loss: An Interview with John Piper and Paul Maier

On this episode of Authors on the Line we talk with two authors — pastor John Piper and historian Paul Maier — about tragedy, loss, and the Christmas season.

We talk with Maier to discover just how tightly interwoven into the Nativity story tragedy is found. We read there of a paranoid king named Herod, who unleashed the tragic killing of young boys in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16). Who was Herod? And is his violent outburst in Bethlehem historical truth or fictional myth invented by Christians? And if it is true, why is there no historical corroboration that it happened?

Matthew 2:16 also provides the background for John Piper's illustrated poem The Innkeeper, and we ask him why in this season of celebration and giving for many families Christmas is an annual reminder of loss — the loss of parents, spouses, brothers, sisters, friends, daughters, and sons. Why do those losses sting so sharply at Christmastime?

From these various angles we see why Christmas and tragedy are inseparable, and ultimately why Christmas is inseparable from the tragedy-turned-triumph of Christ’s finished work.

To listen to our conversation you can subscribe to the Authors on the Line podcast in iTunes here, or you can listen on the resource page by clicking on the following link:

Christmas and the Sting of Personal Loss: An Interview with John Piper and Paul Maier (22 minutes)


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Tony Reinke is a content strategist and staff writer for Desiring God and the author of Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books (2011) and John Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (2015). He hosts the Ask Pastor John and Authors on the Line podcasts, and lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and their three children. He also blogs at tonyreinke.com.