Destroy Jesus?

the massacre of the innocents

The Massacre of the Innocents (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Matthew 2:13–21 (ESV)

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

16 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. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When Herod realized that the Messiah had been born, he immediately wanted to remove the threat. Herod was in charge and he wanted to keep it that way. So, when he could not locate Jesus, he commanded that every male child two years or younger be killed. However, unknown to Herod, God had instructed Joseph to flee with his family to Egypt to escape this massacre.

From the very beginning, Jesus’ entry into the world did not go as we might expect. Should not the long-awaited Messiah be met with great joy and happiness? Should not the Son of God receive great honor and praise? Yet, while Jesus was joyfully greeted by some (e.g. the shepherds and wise men), he was also despised and rejected by many others at his birth and during his later life. Herod tried to put him to death while he was still a child. The religious leaders sought his life when he was an adult and eventually succeeded in sending him to the cross.

We see in the actions of the different people we read about in the Gospels that there are ultimately two responses to Jesus. We can either reject him and denounce him and try to destroy him or we can rejoice in his coming and fall before him in worship and praise. How do you respond to Jesus?

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts in 2019.

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