“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
This is the hardest part of the story. This episode reveals Herod—known to history as Herod the Great—as one of the single greatest monsters ever to walk the face of the earth. It puts him in the ranks of Hitler and Stalin and Mao. He may not have killed nearly as many (though he had many thousands more than this put to death in his time, including family members), but anyone who would order the wholesale slaughter of babies jumps to the head of that deadly class. The bottom line right now, though, is this: What on earth are we supposed to do with this?
Well, there’s nothing much we can do with it. It happened. This is history. This is one of history’s tragedies. Luke doesn’t make it out to be more or less than it was. He simply reports the facts. And, while we don’t have anything documenting this awful turn of events, we don’t have any reason to doubt its historical veracity either.
What this episode reveals is that there are some people who are so committed to a way of life other than God’s that they will do quite literally anything to oppose it. Human life is meaningless to them in their quest to create the kind of world they want to inhabit. This isn’t on God. It’s on us. It’s on sin. It’s nasty stuff.
The simple, but hard, fact is: The infusion of the Gospel into our world didn’t drive away all the sin. It spelled its final end, but sin lives in the hearts of people. As long as there are people who haven’t been redeemed and washed clean of their sin, there will be sin in the world. No amount of grace will change that. Grace provides the solution, it doesn’t force it on anyone.
Until the day of redemption, sin will be opposing God’s people and resisting God’s plans in every single way it can. Nothing is off the table. Our job is not to worry about this. Our job is to walk in that grace and to encourage others around us to do the same. Our job is to advance the kingdom of God wherein sin has no place any longer. Our job is to continue on the path Jesus has blazed, in spite of its difficulties, so that we can see life win. If we do that, no amount of opposition can stop us. God’s got the rest.