In the Slaughter of the Innocents, we catch a glimpse of the ugliness of sin that opposes Christ and wants to destroy Him.
King Herod would stop at nothing to defend his kingship. He did not consider the tender age of the babies he was destroying. He did not consider how monstrous his actions were. Surely in his mind, Herod rationalized why the massacre of little boys was the right decision. We easily see that his thoughts and actions were deep madness and most foul murder.
Are we also sinners like Herod? We surely do not sin out of control as he does. Surely a distinction can be made between us and him. We would never slaughter innocent babies. We would not sin so awfully and openly.
Yet we are serious and awful sinners, nonetheless. Like Herod, we are sometimes angry at things that should not produce such a reaction in us. Too often we let our tempers get the better of us. Too often we have hateful thoughts, which make us murderers in the sight of God. Too often we speak angry words, which make us as deserving of hellfire as Herod was.
We too easily hurt others, even when we rationalize why we really acted in the right way. Perhaps we look back on our actions and realize that we were acting a little crazy. We more easily see in others this kind of irrational behavior that hurts others. But in ourselves, we are likely to ignore or smooth over or give excuses.
We do not slaughter innocents by the dozens. Yet our nation does, all around us. We have gotten too used to abortion. We nod our heads and say, "Oh, yes, that's bad." But we become calloused and hardened to it, as if murder is something we can live with. We should be lamenting in horror the slaughter going on around us.
We may not act in unrestrained murder as Herod did. Yet we have the same blackness in our heart that he had. We have the same dark fountain of evil that can produce the very same sins. None of us are really better than Herod, because we all have the same murderous, sinful flesh that he had.
Herod surely has gone to the place he deserved. We deserve the same place. We who have a murderous sinful flesh should also go to the place of death, the eternal dying and anguish of hell.
But here is the great difference between Herod and us. He heard the Word of God, yet he did not repent and believe in the Messiah. Instead, he hated the Messiah's coming and opposed it as strongly as possible. Although our sinful flesh would surely do the same, and still does when it gets the chance, yet God has turned us in repentance and faith. For the Lord has opened our eyes to see His Messiah, His Son who came as a Child for us. He has converted
If Christ had not converted us into new creatures, then our sins would get worse and worse and more unrestrained, just like Herod. Even now, if we turned our ears away from His Word and ignored His voice, we would lead ourselves into destruction. In this way, Joseph might have doomed himself and his family if he had ignored the message of the angel. Yet he did not, and neither do we, because our Lord preserves us in the true faith to heed the warnings of His Word.
Although we still have our guilt and deserve death and hell, Christ came into human flesh in order to suffer in our place. He was struck down and suffered damnation in our place. He was killed by soldiers, not in Bethlehem under Herod, because it was not the right time. Instead, Christ was crucified under Pontius Pilate, slaughtered and massacred as the only absolutely innocent victim. Even the little babies that we call innocent on this day had a sinful and self-centered flesh. Yet Christ was pure and untouched by any hateful rage or murderous impulse. He alone could offer the perfect sacrifice that could cleanse us and make us innocent in God's sight.
That is what you are today. You are pure and holy in His eyes. You also must sometimes suffer the attacks of the world. Yet you are the precious little ones that God always watches over, protecting you with His holy angels. He will not even let a single hair from your head fall without His notice. He will keep you safe in His Word and promise, safe in the Blood of His Son, safe for all eternity.
In His Name and to His glory. Amen.
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