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 NLT
Illustration of Matthew 2:16-18 NLT — "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.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Genesis 6:5-6
  • Matthew 18:3-6
  • Matthew 18:10


About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.