Rachel weeps for her children (v.18).
Few things seem more out of place than the appalling
account of Herod’s slaughter of the innocents
(Matthew 2:16). Why would a loving God permit
a tyrant’s massacre of children to stain the beauty and
poignancy of the Christmas story?
Matthew recounts in stark simplicity: “[Herod] sent
soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem
who were two years old and under” (Matthew 2:16).
The subsequent “explanation” does little to satisfy our
longing for justice: “Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what
God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah” (v.17).
The wail of ancient, anguished poetry echoes eerily in
our souls: “Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be
comforted, for they are dead” (v.18).
That lament evokes a larger question. Humanity is
violated by such acts, and something in us yearns to say:
Hey, God, You’re God, for heaven’s sake! Why did You
let this happen? It wasn’t fair to permit an evil despot to
snatch the baby boys from Bethlehem’s mothers while
Your Son escaped to Egypt.
But God’s Son didn’t escape. He came to die. Decades
after His birth, this Innocent—“the Lamb of God who
takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)—was
Himself slaughtered. The apostle Paul declares that God
“did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us
all” (Romans 8:32).
There’s no satisfying explanation for atrocities. We will, however, find
satisfaction and fulfillment in this: “God sent His Son into the world not to judge
the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17).
Meanwhile, we find solace in the fact that Jesus loves children infinitely more
than the enemy hates them. The innocents await justice. We can trust the Just
One to see to it.
What similarities do you find in the Exodus account of the birth
of Moses and the birth of Jesus? (exodus 1:15–2:10).
What feelings are stirred up in you when you learn of injustice or atrocities?
Do you ignore or avoid them? Become enraged? How does God want
you to react?