The Baby Killer
She will never get over it. The silver-haired grandmother was the sweetest and kindest, and she adored her grandkids. She also loved her large luxury car and when she settled into the plush leather seat and began to back down her driveway, she never dreamt that a few feet would forever change her life. Toddlers are big enough to be on the move, but not tall enough to be seen through the back window before the days of rearview cameras. She knew as soon as she hit him, but it was too late.
We live in a world where babies die every day. Where is God when babies get hurt?
At the close of Matthew’s description of the birth of Jesus from Joseph’s perspective, he includes the part of the story that never makes it into our nostalgic nativity scenes. To be fair, it shouldn’t because it happened later, maybe even a couple of years after Jesus’ birth, when he was a toddler.
Like Pharaoh in the Moses story, when Herod realized that he had been outsmarted by the Magi, he gave the command. His soldiers were dispatched to Bethlehem. (Herod’s palace at the Herodium was only four miles southeast of Bethlehem and visible from the city.) Little boys two-years-old and under in David’s city and the area around it were murdered.
As Matthew remembers the mothers grieving in agony over the loss of their sons in Bethlehem, he thinks of the mothers grieving over the death of hundreds of babies when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC and he quotes Jeremiah 31:15,
“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and much wailing. Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more.”
God understands the grief in the grandmother’s heart—a grief like Rachel weeping over her lost children—that refuses to be soothed and healed. Matthew tells us that God sent His Son into a world where vicious tyrants in jealous rages snuff out the lives of small children, but God does more than comfort when we are working through the unimaginable
If we trace the story that Jeremiah tells in Jeremiah 31, we discover that there is One who, after the tears in Ramah, can wipe the tears away. Jeremiah goes on to write, “So there is hope for your descendants,” declares the Lord, “Your children will return to their own land.” (Jeremiah 31:17).
God will make a New Covenant with his people and he will give them the gift of a new heart and resurrection life. Jesus will make it possible for us to receive this new heart and eternal life when he dies and rises again at the climax and resolution of the Book of Matthew. Death won’t be able to hold Jesus and it won’t be able to hold the lives of innocents murdered by tyrants like Herod.
The grandmother I told you about who ran over her grandson is now home with the Lord in the Promised Land with her grandson, and Jesus has wiped the tears away.
Lord, comfort my sisters in Christ who have lost their precious children. Help them realize that they can weep uncontrollably like Rachel. Help them realize that Jesus weeps with them. In time awaken the hope that you stirred in the weeping prophet’s soul and gently move them to find rest in the fact that the resurrected Jesus is the new Moses—the Deliverer who will one day crush the head of the lying, murdering Serpent.
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