The First Martyrs For Christ

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem.  Matthew 2:16

Mothers wept over their slain children.  Wailing was heard beyond the boundaries of Bethlehem.  Herod’s rage had caused him to strike with a broad stroke.  Every male child, age two and under, had been murdered.

Scene 06/65 - Interior Antipas Prison Cell; John The Baptist (Daniel Percival) is thrown into jail by Herod Antipas (RICK BACON).

The king’s act was preposterous.  He was seventy years old.  If an infant child were to grow and assume the throne, it wouldn’t be in his lifetime.  Jesus was no threat to him professionally!  But Herod wasn’t out to protect his reign of power; he was out to exact revenge.  A mind-set bent on revenge ignores rationality.

It’s easy to focus on the miracle of Jesus’ deliverance.  His life was spared because his parents had been warned in a dream about the coming danger and had fled to Egypt.  Yet the losses of these other families are part of the story, too.  Parents of these slain children had no perspective on their loss.  They did not know that their sons were martyrs, slain for the cause of Christ.  Their sons died so Jesus could grow up and, one day. hang on a cross, give his life, and offer them all something greater.  The forgiveness of sins.  Redemption.  Intimacy with the Father who once walked with Adam.

Time brings perspective. I can look back at my life and say in retrospect, “Yes, I lost that, but later God gave me this!”  We grieve without hope unless we embrace the One and only Redeemer.  The stories of our spiritual ancestors teach us that our weeping is not in vain.  We can pursue our redemption and trade our losses for something infinitely greater.  Spiritual riches surpass the weight of our tears.

Weeping is a part of life.  But I do not cry without hope.  Jesus, you promise to redeem my losses.  I look to you, for you write the future.  Amen

Journal Question:

You are approaching the home of a mother whose little boy was murdered by Herod’s soldiers.  What would your comfort look like and sound like?  Knock on the door and walk through the experience.  Formulate your words based on solid theology.

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