Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Slaughter of the Innocents

Matthew 2:13-18

When [the Magi] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in adream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

This window depicts the holy family’s flight to Egypt. This happened in response to the first attempt by God’s enemies to take the life of Jesus. It is a very tragic story and it shows why all of Jerusalem was “troubled” when King Herod was upset to learn of a potential rival newborn king (see Magi). History tells us that Herod was so ruthless that he murdered his own son when he believed the young man was a threat to his rule, so the babies of Bethlehem were of no concern to him.

This was a great tragedy, but greater massacres occur every day in the United States alone, not to mention numerous other nations, when thousands of innocent babies are mercilessly slaughtered in the womb by people who view these children as some threat to livelihood or prosperity just as Herod did. All this tells us is that we live in a cold, cruel world full of sinners who need redemption from our sin.

Christians know that there are no real “innocent” people in the world. The unborn victims of abortion need a savior from inherited sin as well as their murderers. Fortunately that is where Jesus comes in. It is precisely because God loves both murder victim and murderer alike that Jesus was born to redeem sinners. When Jesus was less than two years old He had not yet accomplished all that was necessary to win our salvation, so He walked away. This is exactly the same tactic He used on other occasions when people wanted to kill Him before He had finished His work. However, when his work was done He did not walk or run away, nor did He try to save Himself in any way, but He let them torture Him, humiliate Him, and crucify Him. By suffering in this way, Jesus paid the price for sin so that all sinners may escape punishment for sin though faith in Him.

The life and death of Jesus does not excuse the wickedness of King Herod, nor of modern day abortionists and their apologists. Evil is still evil no matter how one may try to excuse it. We can take comfort, however, that just as Jesus forgave those who nailed Him to a cross and killed Him, so He will forgive my sins, no matter how wicked they may be. This is what gives Christians the courage to repent of all our sins - the assurance that God has forgiven us all our sins for the sake of Christ Jesus.

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