As we move along to the second chapter of Matthew, tragedy meets divinity as we witness more miracles in the story of Jesus. This miracle… and tragedy… is built around those that fill our hearts with joy and our landfills with diapers… Babies!
King Herod has been affectionately called “a madman” in history, though we have probably heard him called “Herod the Great”. After reading my history lessons about him, I would simply call him “Herod the Great Madman”.
He was a ruthless murderer. He killed three of his sons, his most beloved wife and many more. Killing, for him and many other leaders during this time, was a normal thing. Herod, however, took it to a whole new level during the time of Jesus.
A group of people enter the city with news that a new king had been born.
Can you imagine the reaction of this man when he found out that the “King of the Jews” had been born on HIS watch in HIS region. Unacceptable! However, he played it cool. I love the answer that he gives this group of guys:
“… ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him’.” Matthew 2:8b
If worship meant “violently murder”, then Herod was waiting for his moment.
The magi left.
They worshipped Jesus.
They returned home… another way… and Herod never located this King.
This didn’t stop Herod though.
His rage grew.
His paranoia expanded.
His anger overflowed into one of the most heinous crimes in the New Testament… Killing babies.
Imagine soldiers, going home to home, shooting babies. That’s it. Just babies. If you were two years or younger, you are getting a bullet.
But, this was ancient times. There were no guns. So, soldiers would have to murder babies with knives and swords. Door to door. House to house. Family to family. Death.
This is another one of those stories of the Bible that I don’t think I truly get. Even typing the words gives me a check in my gut. I don’t want to type them. They are too hard. They are too dark. They sicken me. But, they are true. It happened.
Imagine the families. Imagine the pain. Imagine the stories… the memories… the tears.
Pure evil. I don’t think that you can get more evil than this. When I think of darkness… this is about as black as it can get. Disgusting.
And, it is out of this darkness, that light prevails. God shows up in a dream to Joseph, provides the money through the magi and opens the doors to Egypt. Jesus is saved from this crime and lives to shine light into this world.
However, most of the parents in Bethlehem probably never had the chance to see this light. They couldn’t make sense of the crime. They simply had to sit through the pain.
I pray that we never have to go through such horror. I pray that we never have to witness such hate. I pray that this depth of pain never reaches the thresholds of our lives. However, I know that each and every one of us will experience pain. We will have things happen. We will go through rage and sadness and loss. It is life. It is the reality of breathing breath. It happens. Sometimes, even when we could do absolutely nothing to prevent it.
What do we do in the midst of it? How do we handle it? What does that look like?
We hold on to the light.
Believe that something good can come from the pain. Believe that God can use man’s evil for His good. Believe that light truly does trump darkness and that God is the one who will have the final say. Trust in Him.
Jesus said it so plainly for us when He said:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
We are each called to have peace, but it will NEVER come from our circumstances. It doesn’t come from our bank accounts. It doesn’t come from our friends. It doesn’t come from living an “easy life”. Where does true peace come from?
Jesus said, “…in ME you may have peace…”
If you need peace, there is only one place that you are going to find it. Look to Jesus.