Wednesday, December 28, 2022 (Feast of the Holy Innocents)
Reader: “His mercy is for those who fear him . . .”
Response: “. . . from generation to generation.”
Scripture: Matthew 2:16-18
Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
“A cry was heard in Ramah—
weeping and great mourning.
Rachel weeps for her children,
refusing to be comforted,
for they are dead.”
Christmas is undoubtedly one of the most joyous times of the year. Without trying to be a party crasher a few days after Christmas, it is worth looking at the whole picture of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. Consider the fact that Israel was being occupied by a foreign power. Herod, the faux king of the Jews, an Edomite, a descendent of Esau, having been put into power by the Romans, was insane and dangerous. (You’ll recall the Edomites were enemies of Israel.) This paranoid man ordered every little boy under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed in order to thwart any claim to his throne since he had learned from the magi that a king of the Jews had been born.
Treachery! What a word. An evil man marshaled his resources to find out what was happening. His sages gave him perfect information. The Messiah, the anointed one, was to be born in Bethlehem only a few miles away from Jerusalem. For whatever reason, Herod did not go to find the baby himself. He was hated and feared by the Jews so he may have feared for his own safety and wanted to keep a lower profile away from the public in order to find out the details.
Note God’s sovereignty even in bad situations. Herod was actually acting as an agent of the devil in seeking to thwart God’s plan of bringing redemption to all people. Satan succeeded in the Garden of Eden in bringing death and destruction to the human race. But he did not succeed here. He did not succeed in Jesus’ temptation. He did not succeed in the Garden of Gethsemane. And he most certainly did not succeed at Calvary. The irony is that while the devil sought to kill Jesus at his birth in Bethlehem, Jesus voluntarily gave up his life at the cross in Jerusalem bringing redemption to the whole created order. Not only did Jesus die, he rose from the grave defeating death and the devil eternally; he ascended to the Father, and we await his return. The joy of Christmas becomes eternal joy in the presence of God. That is what is ahead for us!
Music: “Coventry Carol” Ashley Serena Choices today!
“Coventry Carol” Vox One Jazz
“Coventry Carol” Gjeilo CORO Vocal Artists
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.” ―Psalm 23:4