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

Authors on the Line

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 begin by talking with Maier, a historian, 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 is 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 the tragedy-turned-triumph of Christ’s finished work.

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