Sunday, December 28, 2008

Martyrdom of the Holy Innocents: A Devotional Commentary

Matthew 2:13-18 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him." When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son." Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: "A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more."

Today the church commemorates the martyrdom of the Holy Innocents--the baby boys who were killed in Bethlehem. Our minds immediately focus on the horrors that we see in our own day--the millions of babies aborted, children being treated as property, and all the miscarriages and stillbirths that we see around us. We cry out, "How could a good God allow such things?"

All death is a result of sin. But God's grace and love are far greater than all the evil of mankind. Jeremiah prophesied about these baby boys and tells us what will become of them.

Jeremiah 31:15-17 Thus says the LORD: "A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more." Thus says the LORD: "Refrain your voice from weeping, And your eyes from tears; For your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD, And they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future, says the LORD, That your children shall come back to their own border.

These baby boys are given God's salvation. These baby boys were killed in an attempt to kill Jesus. They died for Jesus. Jesus came to die for them. If the Lamb had not come they may have led a longer earthly existence but would suffer eternal damnation. Because the Lamb came they have been given eternal life. They died for the Lamb, the Lamb died for them.


Almighty God, the martyred innocents of Bethlehem showed forth Your praise not by speaking but by dying. Put to death in us all that is in conflict with Your will that our lives may bear witness to the faith we profess with our lips; through Lord Jesus, our Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

No comments: