While Jesus is the Prince of Peace, He came into the world scarred by lack of peace, in fact, filled with hatred, jealousy, and death. From Jesus’ birth the enemies of God, beginning with Herod, tried to prevent Him from accomplishing His saving purpose.
In Sunday morning Bible class we recently finished reading and studying this episode: Matthew 2:13-18
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
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. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they care no more.”
The sad reality of what happened stays with us even today. By Jesus not being one of those killed, He was able to fulfill His purpose, to bring salvation to all humans. Yes, the children are called “innocent” in that they did nothing to provoke Herod’s wrath. But Jesus is the truly Innocent One who will be killed having done nothing to deserve that death—He died willingly for all who are guilty of sin, whether by nature or by action.
In the midst of our current struggles of life, we remember that nothing, not even death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:37-39), because the truly Innocent One died for us.
Here is the prayer from Lutheran Worship, p. 117
Almighty God, whose praise was proclaimed on this day by the wicked death of innocent children, giving us thereby a picture of the death of Your beloved Son, mortify and destroy in us all that is in conflict with You, that we who have been called in faith to be Your children may in life and death bear witness to Your salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen