A Christmas Tragedy
In 1995, just ten days before Christmas, EBCLA leaders Art and Sharon Yokoi died on the way home from a Christmas party.
Their seven-year-old daughter Stephanie was asleep in the back seat and survived. Their funeral was held just a few days before Christmas.
Christmas and Death
Matthew 4:16 “The people living in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
ROMANS 623 For the wages of sin is
death, but the gift of God is eternal
life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Matthew 22 Jesus was born in
Bethlehem in Judea. This
happened while Herod was king of
After Jesus’ birth, Wise Men from
the east came to Jerusalem. 2
They asked, “Where is the child
who has been born to be king of
the Jews? When we were in the
east, we saw his star. Now we
have come to worship him.”
Matthew 23 When King Herod heard about it,
he was very upset. Everyone in Jerusalem was
troubled too. 4 So Herod called together all the
chief priests of the people. He also called the
teachers of the law. He asked them where the
Christ was going to be born.
5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied. “This
is what the prophet has written. He said,
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are certainly not the least important among
the towns of Judah.
A ruler will come out of you.
He will be the shepherd of my people
Israel.’” (Micah 5:2)
Matthew 27 Then Herod called for the Wise Men secretly. He found
out from them exactly when the star had appeared. 8 He sent them
to Bethlehem. He said, “Go! Make a careful search for the child. As
soon as you ﬁnd him, bring me a report. Then I can go and worship
Matthew 29 After the Wise Men had listened
to the king, they went on their way. The star
they had seen when they were in the east
went ahead of them. It ﬁnally stopped over
the place where the child was. 10 When they
saw the star, they were ﬁlled with joy.
11 The Wise Men went to the house. There
they saw the child with his mother Mary.
They bowed down and worshiped him. Then
they opened their treasures. They gave him
gold, incense and myrrh.
12 But God warned them in a dream not to
go back to Herod. So they returned to their
country on a different road.
Matthew 213 When the Wise Men had
left, Joseph had a dream. In the dream an
angel of the Lord appeared to him. “Get
up!” the angel said. “Take the child and
his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay
there until I tell you to come back. Herod
is going to search for the child. He wants
to kill him.”
14 Joseph got up. During the night, he left
for Egypt with the child and his mother
Mary. 15 They stayed there until King
Herod died. So the words the Lord had
spoken through the prophet came true.
He had said, “I chose to bring my son out
of Egypt.” (Hosea 11:1)
Matthew 216 Herod realized
that the Wise Men had
tricked him. So he became
very angry. He gave orders
concerning Bethlehem and
the area around it. All the
boys two years old and
under were to be killed. This
agreed with the time when
the Wise Men had seen the
Matthew 217 In this way, the words
the prophet Jeremiah spoke came
true. He had said,
18 “A voice is heard in Ramah.
It’s the sound of crying and deep
Rachel is crying over her children.
She refuses to be comforted,
because they are gone.” (Jeremiah
Jesus is no stranger to our fear of dying
“[A]fter birth, death is the one absolutely unavoidable
experience, the one we ﬁnally cannot ignore.”
James Loder, The Transforming Moment (85)
“What does it mean to be a self-conscious animal?
The idea is ludicrous, if it is not monstrous.
It means to know that one is food for worms.”
Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death, 1973
“[The lower animals] live in a world without time, pulsating, as it were, in a state of dumb
being. This is what has made it so simple to shoot down whole herds of buffalo or elephants.
The animals don't know that death is happening and continue grazing placidly while others
drop alongside them. The knowledge of death is reflective and conceptual, and animals are
spared it. They live and they disappear with the same thoughtlessness: a few minutes of fear, a
few seconds of anguish, and it is over. But to live a whole lifetime with the fate of death
haunting one's dreams and even the most sun-filled days—that's something else.” (Ibid.)
God has given us a way to live
in the shadow of death without
being overwhelmed by the fear
of our dying one day.
JOHN 316 God loved the people of this world so much
that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has
faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.
17 God did not send his Son into the world to
condemn its people. He sent him to save them! (CEV)