TIME Magazine is calling it, “The Massacre of the Innocents” in their headline. And, it was.
Yet, that phrase has another meaning that many might not know. Earlier in the gospel, Matthew recorded this:
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been outwitted by the wise men, flew into a rage. He gave orders to massacre all the male children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, in keeping with the time he had learned from the wise men.
Then what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be consoled, because they were no more. (Matthew 2:16-18)
Bible scholars think that this small village of Bethlehem had a population of about 1,000, which means about 20 infant boys would have been killed by Herod’s evil command. Yes, 20 children. Though Jesus was not among the killed, the weeping was real and loud for those who experienced yet another loss. And, we know that God grieved with Rachel who wept for her children.
Yet, outside of the Gospel of Matthew, this massacre gets no mention in the other historical records of the day. You see, such horrors were not uncommon then– this same Herod killed his own sons. So, twenty deaths were not newsworthy in a world so filled with death, persecution, and injustice. Yet, it was in that very time, in that incredibly unjust society, that Jesus called us to be a people of love, grace, prayer, and forgiveness. He called us to a radically different way.
Yes, murderous evil is not as widespread today in our country, but the evil still happens and it is still here. We saw that in this tragedy. The massacre of the innocents at Sandy Hook remind us just how broken this world is.
I shared a few things on my blog about how we might respond. In Subversive Kingdom, I wrote:
Look around. Our world is broken. I’m not talking about the “world” in terms of nature (although creation, too, bears the marks of sin’s blemish and decay). I’m talking about the “world” comprised of the people, structures, and systems that make up society–the moral patterns, beliefs, and behaviors that result in things like unfair business practices, racism, extreme poverty, dishonest government, dirty politics, family breakdown, cheating, stealing, oppression of the weak, and so many other distressors and defilers…
It’s not right.
And in homes and hospitals every day of the week, at courthouses and gravesides everywhere in the world, people of all spiritual makes and models suffer from it– from a world that toils along in hopeless disrepair.
How do we best deal with the brokenness of the world? We look to Jesus to comfort us and trust him to eventually set all things back right.
In “Joy to the World,” the third verse expresses it well:
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.
The curse was found in Sandy Hook. Let’s grieve with and pray for the hurting. Let’s call the world what it is– broken. Then, let’s recommit ourselves to living for Jesus and others in a broken world.