What Jesus Did! 'Slaying the Innocents' — Matthew 2:16-18

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Herod saw that the wise men had fooled him. Herod was very, very angry. So Herod gave an order to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and in all the area around Bethlehem. Herod had learned from the wise men the time {the baby was born}. It was now two years from that time. So Herod said to kill all the boys that were two years old and younger. So the thing God said through the prophet Jeremiah happened: "A sound was heard in Ramah. It was bitter crying and much sadness. Rachel cries for her children; and she cannot be comforted, because her children are dead."
— Matthew 2:16-18
Illustration of Matthew 2:16-18 — "A sound was heard in Ramah. It was bitter crying and much sadness. Rachel cries for her children; and she cannot be comforted, because her children are dead."

Key Thought

I don't know about you, but I don't like this story. It spoils the sentimentality of the birth story of Jesus. But, at a more primal level of truth, this story of Herod's brutal paranoia shocks us awake, and helps us understand why Jesus had to come. Without a reverence for God and his Word, we human beings have shown a remarkable propensity for brutality, as culture loses sight of the preciousness of each person created in the image of God. The slaying of the innocents reminds us of how easily we slip into a mentality that puts personal protection, reputation, and position above the rights of those who are vulnerable and powerless. Just because Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, doesn't mean he came to a safe and pristine world, or was somehow insulated from the realities of evil unleashed among us. This brutal world awaited him. That's the core of the story. Even the innocents are not protected, even if that Innocent is God among us—as later events in Jesus life will reveal.

Today's Prayer

O God, please forgive us for the slaying of innocents today—this is especially true when we do such things to maintain appearances while we extinguish any unexpected and unwanted "surprises." Thank you for sending Jesus in a time and in a way that exposed him to the brutality of the world, a brutality that still haunts us to this day. Thank you that his blood will cleanse any repentant sinner, even those who have been a part of the brutality. Father, please forgive me for the times I have looked at others without your love for them in my heart. In Jesus' precious name I pray. Amen.

Today's Verses in Context

After the wise men left, an angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream. The angel said, "Get up! Take the baby and his mother and escape to Egypt. Herod will start looking for the baby. Herod wants to kill him. So stay in Egypt until I tell you {it is safe}." So Joseph got up and left for Egypt with the baby and the baby's mother. They left during the night. Joseph stayed in Egypt until Herod died. This happened to make clear the full meaning of what the Lord said through the prophet. The Lord said, "I called my son to come out of Egypt." Herod saw that the wise men had fooled him. Herod was very, very angry. So Herod gave an order to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and in all the area around Bethlehem. Herod had learned from the wise men the time {the baby was born}. It was now two years from that time. So Herod said to kill all the boys that were two years old and younger. So the thing God said through the prophet Jeremiah happened: "A sound was heard in Ramah. It was bitter crying and much sadness. Rachel cries for her children; and she cannot be comforted, because her children are dead." After Herod died, an angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream. This happened while Joseph was in Egypt. The angel said, "Get up! Take the baby and his mother and go to Israel. The people that were trying to kill the baby are now dead." So Joseph took the baby and the baby's mother and went to Israel. But Joseph heard that Archelaus was now king in Judea. Archelaus became king when his father Herod died. So Joseph was afraid to go there. Joseph was warned in a dream. So Joseph left there and went to the area of Galilee. Joseph went to a town called Nazareth and lived there. And so the thing happened that God said through the prophets. God said that {the Christ} would be called a Nazarene.

Matthew 2:13-23

Related Scripture Readings

The Lord saw that the people on the earth were very evil. The Lord saw that people thought only about evil things all the time. The Lord was sorry that he had made people on the earth. It made the Lord very sad in his heart.

Genesis 6:5-6

Then Jesus said, "I tell you the truth. You must change and become like little children {in your hearts}. If you don't do this, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. The greatest (most important) person in the kingdom of heaven is the person that makes himself humble like this child. "If a person accepts a little child like this in my name, then that person accepts me. "If one of these little children believes in me, and another person causes that child to sin, then it will be very bad for that person. It would be better for that person to have a millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea.

Matthew 18:3-6

"Be careful. Don't think these little children are worth nothing. I tell you that these children have angels in heaven. And those angels are always with my Father in heaven.

Matthew 18:10

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About This Devotional

What Jesus Did is a one-year devotional guide through the gospels, using one short passage each day and following the Gospel in consecutive order. Each devotional consists of a passage, reflection and a prayer which opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.

Easy-to-Read Version copyright © 2001 by World Bible Translation Center. All rights reserved.