“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.” (Matthew 2:16 ESV)
This is the part of the Christmas story we don’t like talking about—the part where several dozen innocent babies get murdered. That’s bad, but what’s worse is that their death is closely related to Jesus’ birth. The best thing in the world—Jesus’ coming—sets off a chain reaction that leads to massacre.
Of course, it wasn’t Jesus’ fault; an evil king chose to commit murder, not Jesus. And yet it feels strange to read how God rescued His own Son from the slaughter and left the other babies to die. How is that fair? How is that even bearable?
It isn’t. Good and evil so intertwined isn’t bearable by anybody. God Himself can’t stand it. And that’s why He came into this world at the first Christmas—to put an end to these horrors and rescue us all.
If you think about it, the truth is that Herod got his way. None of the babies escaped death—not even Jesus. His death just took a little longer. Thirty years later, another Herod—this Herod’s son—would hand “the King of the Jews” over to death on a Roman cross. The last baby of Bethlehem would fall to Herod’s will.
And yet—and yet, Herod does not have the last word after all. For three days later, Jesus would rise from the dead, never to die again. And Jesus brought with Him that same gift of life and light to give to everyone who belongs to Him—to me, to you, to the babies who died for Him at Bethlehem. Herod doesn’t have the last word—Jesus does.
Prayer: Lord, help me to see past the horrors of this world to Your life, mercy, and deliverance. Amen.
Advent Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
Published January 4, 2022
* Why do you think God allowed this horrible story to be recorded?
* What do you do when the horrors of this world are too much for you?
* How does Jesus help you at such times?
(To view the entire “Advent Devotions” mini-series, please click here.)